It's been an improbably great half of a short season. Here are some of the highlights and low lights according to me.
Last night's 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues marked the exact half way point of this lockout shortened 48 game season. With that in mind, this week the AC staff will be presenting our first half reviews, complete with praise, admonishments, awards and ... whatever the opposite of an award is. So without further ado, I'll kick it off. Enjoy!
Most Valuable Duck: Ryan Getzlaf - I don't think I'm caught up in the excitement of his signing an eight year contract extension, but that helps. On Saturday, Robby pointed out that Getzy is on pace to put up above career average numbers, if they were extrapolated over a real season, which is a HUGE relief after the abomination of a year he had in 2011-12.
Pretty much everything that we complained about last year in his game has been corrected. He's only one goal away from his full season total last year (11), he's shooting more than anyone except Corey Perry and he's been more disciplined. I have a feeling the discipline is mostly a factor of a decrease in frustration. When you're playing so much better and so is the team, there just isn't as much motivation to slash anyone in the final minute of a one goal game.
On top of all that, he's also been a beast defensively, blocking shots, killing penalties and backchecking like a maniac.
As I said on the Podcast this week, I don't think we'll get eight more years of this, but I have a feeling it will be closer to this level than last year's.
Knock on wood.
Least Valuable Duck: Brad Staubitz - It would just be hypocritical of me to choose anyone else after having called Staubitz a "useless corpse" in one of my game recaps this season.
Reading between the lines on Bob Murray's comments over the summer, Staubitz was brought in because he was cheaper and easier to scratch than George Parros, that's not a good start. In addition, he hasn't won a fight yet, and has taken some flat out idiotic penalties (i.e. game misconduct for spearing).
Last year on our mid season awards, I chose Ryan Getzlaf as LVD, but really I meant most disappointing. In this case, even on his best days, Staubitz adds the least value to the team, to the point where his being put in the lineup is an immediate subtraction of a roster spot for a player who can contribute more on a regular shift, as the team has become deeper and more balanced.
Biggest Surprise: All of the things... It's mind boggling how well the Ducks are doing. I knew they weren't as bad as they showed last season, but this is beyond what anyone could have expected. At the halfway point of this shortened season they're 15 games over .500 (!!!!)
If I have to pick one thing, I'll go with Viktor Fasth. In my season prediction I expected Jonas Hiller to play upwards of 40 games this season, considering how many he played down the stretch last year. I never would have thought a 30-year-old goalie who had played his entire career in Sweden could break into the league and go 8-0-0 to start his career. But that's just one of many pleasant surprises this season.
Honorable Mention: Daniel Winnik.
Biggest Disappointment: This is the exact opposite of the Biggest Surprise. The penalty kill is the only thing that is disappointing about this season for the Ducks. Twenty-eighth in the league, 76.8% is just not acceptable. I can hardly even imagine, how they'd be doing if they were able to kill penalties.
140 Character Prediction for the Second Half of the Season: All 5 Pacific Division teams make playoffs, Ducks trade Perry, get home ice, First ever Ducks/Kings playoff series will not go well for us.