[Ed. Note: Throughout the All-Star Break, the Anaheim Calling team will be giving their mid-season reports. Next up, Robby Bobby Ryan.]
I really wanted to come up with a different pairing than anyone else. That said, I still feel like you can make a credible case for each of these guys. Both of my picks deal more with their play in an organizational context and how it will help or hurt the franchise moving forward.
MVP - First Half
Jonas Hiller. I know some of you may have just done a spit-take, but this team would be even worse off right now if it wasn't for Hiller. While he had a propensity to be leaky at times during the early part of the season, he also was repeatedly hung out to dry by his team, probably more so than just about any other goalie in the league. I can't remember how many times guys walked right in while our defensemen just kind of stood there.
As of the All-Star break, Jonas has faced more shots than only six other goalies in the league and he plays on a team that ranks 22nd in the league in PK time. In short, Hiller faces an inordinate number of shots and has to deal with more opposing PPs than most goalies in the league.
Without a doubt, Jonas has not had his best season of his career so far this year. But he's really turned it on since the calendar changed, going 7-2-1 with a 1.7 GAA and .942 save percentage. And as good as though stats have been, what truly earns Jonas the MVP in my eyes is that the doubts are now gone. His health and capability were huge question marks coming into this season. The peace of mind in seeing Jonas healthy and effective will bring some much needed stability to this team and its off-season plans for a few years.
LVP - First Half
Toni Lydman. As surprisingly good as Toni was last year, he's been as bad (if not worse) this season. In addition to going from a staggering +32 to a miserable -8, Lydman is on pace for 47 giveaways this season, compared to only 38 from last year. It just seems that whatever good luck charm Lydman had last season has come back to claim its payment this season, as Lydman has gone all the way from the team's top pairing with Lubomir Visnovsky to a third-line assignment with Sheldon Brookbank. On several occasions this season, Lydman has been completely out of place, resulting in odd-man rushes and other prime scoring opportunities for opposing teams.
While other players have disappointed, this complete 180 from Lydman especially hurts as he was supposed to be one of the stalwarts on the D this season. While Bob Murray should have certainly been more aggressive in pursuing a top-4 defenseman, he (and indeed everyone else) probably expected much more from Lydman than he's gotten. Lydman looked like he would be a solid piece for the term of his deal (which expires after next season), but his shaky play will create some headaches for this team moving forward. Having to pay a defenseman with no upside and inconsistent defensive abilities $3 million next year is not something I look forward to.
Ryan Getzlaf will either be traded or stripped of the captaincy. Getz has certainly played better of late, but I think some of his poor decision-making and inconsistent effort have put him in the dog-house with new coach Bruce Boudreau. Getz couldn't have made a worst first impression than that game against Philadelphia where his additional two-minute minor for whining at the zebras ended up costing his team an extra point. He's still hasn't rid himself of the propensity to take bad penalties late in games (as he did a few games ago against the Avalanche) and you're never really sure what you're going to get from Getz on any given night.
I'd like to point out that I'm not angling for a trade or anything, it just wouldn't surprise me. Of the big three, I think Boudreau has the least affection for Getzlaf. Whether or not Boudreau's opinion has any bearing over what Murray does or does not do remains to be seen, although this note from the OC Register a week ago does make me think that something could happen:
And there are the daily rumors of Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf possibly heading elsewhere, though Murray has said that Ryan was off the table.
Personally, I hope that the Ducks just take away the captaincy in order to take some pressure off Getzlaf. If you can convince Koivu to stay, give it to him while Getz matures a little more.