Fasth. Hiller. Selanne. Etem. Guess which one is which.
Every intelligent thing that one could possibly say about the Ducks' performance at the half has already been said. Every obvious choice for each category has been thoroughly justified. So, I've decided to mix it up.
Most Valuable Duck: I'm going to cheat here: the goaltending tandem of Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller. (I'm jumping on that bandwagon!) Ryan Getzlaf is the obvious choice (for his leadership and ability to completely dominate games), and Francois Beauchemin and Saku Koivu (for their steady, reliable play) are the "sleeper" choices. These men are all very deserving, but Hiller and Fasth have been crucial parts of the Ducks' success. The successes - and the controversy - surrounding both men have led to a renewed level of media attention for our franchise (media exposure, especially for a nontraditional franchise like ours, is always valuable). When one struggles, the other steps up. It's an ideal situation - not a competition - and I'd like to keep the both of them around as long as possible.
Least Valuable Duck: When you're the 2nd best team in the NHL, it's difficult to find a scapegoat to pin all of your team's woes on. But we have them Brad Staubitz, early-season Bryan Allen, and more recently, Ben Lovejoy. At the risk of being banned by Jen and shamed in the comments...well, I'll just say it: Teemu Selanne. Teemu has struggled to develop chemistry with new linemates, and has been limited to 4 points in the Ducks' last 14 games.
Teemu, obviously, is a legend, and this is not an indictment against his talent. But with the emergence of Getzlaf/Perry and the Ducks' depth scorers, he is no longer forced to carry the Ducks' offense on his back as he had in previous seasons (and that's a good thing). In other words, he's not really the "least valuable" Duck. His role is just changing. (He has also described this season as his toughest).
Biggest Surprise: Emerson Etem. Once again, Etem is a less obvious choice than someone like Sheldon Souray. And it feels strange to say that I'm surprised that a former first-round pick is panning out well. But Etem has been surprisingly polarizing, especially in the AC community. Some regarded him as a boom-bust prospect, who would have difficulty if he was unable to establish a scoring presence early on in his NHL career. He has since proven these doubters wrong. While he still hasn't established himself as a consistent NHL presence, Etem has shown that he can skate with the big boys. Who knew that the kid who scored a goal per game in junior - and skates funny - would be capable of gritty defensive play? I expect to see him score his first NHL goal very soon.
Biggest Disappointment: The lopsided wheel of justice. When Brendan Shanahan took over Colin Campbell's job, people praised the Department of Player Safety for its fairness. Yet, Shanny's rulings have become more confusing and incomprehensible over time, and the Ducks always seem to be on the wrong end of them.
140 Character Prediction: Perry stays. Because I said so.