With the completion of the 2010-11 Tampa Bay Lightning season, it's high time that we bestow upon the team the 3rd Annual Raw Charge Team Awards.
Our first year awards were, well... Nothing much. Our second year awards set the standard that we hope to follow and build upon: Using the five major NHL post-season awards: Hart (MVP), Vezina (Goaltender), Norris (Top Defenseman), Selke (Defensive Forward), Calder (Rookie of the year).
After that, we have two of our own awards: The Ryan Classic Nickname of the Year award that is given to the top nickname for a player (generated by the Raw Charge community) for the season. The second is the Club Two-Minutes Achievement Award for the most brutal display of officiating during a Tampa Bay Lightning game.
I know people are going to jump up and use the post-season for reasons for certain choices of players deserving this-and-that, but we'll stick with the (now long gone) regular season performances. There's also debate and discussion to be had over almost every one of our choices. That's what comments are for after the story, and we invite you to discuss and debate there.
Hart Trophy - Tampa Bay Lightning team MVP - RW Martin St. Louis
"The heart and soul of the franchise", as everyone likes to dub him. His small, he's fierce. He's one of those once-in-a-generation players that defies expectations and raises everyone's game. It's not that he needed to be paired with young star Steven Stamkos in order to rack up points. It's not that he was forced to work with Vincent Lecavalier in order to produce. No, it's the other way around, and has been for a long time in Tampa Bay: Martin St. Louis has been and is the guy who makes his linemates better.
He led the team (and was at the top of the pack in the NHL) with 99 points this season (31 goals, 68 assists) and put up another 20 points in the playoffs (10 goals, 10 assists, 20 points). His sacrifice, his consecutive-games-played streak (
The only argument on this one, is who was more important to the Lightning making the playoffs this season? And that debate involves the team's best goalie...
Vezina Award - Top goaltender - Dwayne Roloson
There's no debate to be had here. The Lightning season was in trouble after the Bolts found they could not depend consistently on either goaltender they started the season with (Mike Smith and Dan Ellis). Both players were all over the place, but seldom playing at their abilities and often playing well below it. They couldn't be depended on. Both head coach Guy Boucher and GM Steve Yzerman pushed the duo to raise their game... Mike Smith went down with an injury in December 2010, the Bolts were relying on Dan Ellis as the #1 starter and NHL-debuting Cedrick Desjardins to carry the team
Yzerman couldn't bank on that tandem, and made a deal with the New York Islanders to secure the services of Dwayne Roloson. Roloson became the workhorse, starting 34 of the Lightning's remaining 42 games after his acquisition, and took focus off the crease and put it more squarely on the team in front of the net.
Rollie posted 18-12-4 record with 4 shutouts during his time with the Bolts. His 2.56 Goals Against average and .912 save percentage might not be other-worldly, but compared to the performance of Ellis and Smith, it made all the difference in the world and helped secure Tampa Bay's first playoff berth in four years.
There's a debate to be had if Roloson proved more valuable to the Lightning than Martin St. Louis this past season. Making a big difference in the teams fortunes in net is the reason why.
Norris Trophy - top defenseman - Brett Clark
When you take an initial look at the Lightning defense, at just the standard stat line, it's 2nd year NHL'er Victor Hedman who stands out. He'd certainly played a good deal of time on ice (21 minutes a game and 28.4 shifts a night), had a positive plus/minus of plus-3, and chipped in offensively with 26 points. You want something like that from your defensemen.
Hedman's making progress, but we're going with Clark as the Lightning's best defenseman. With 157 blocked shots during the season, Clark's sacrifice and willingness to throw a hit (he was second on the team with 117 hits during the 2010-11 regular season) puts him ahead of Hedman. His plus-two rating didn't hurt either.
Selke Award - Top Defensive Forward - C Nate Thompson
While some awards (on the team level or league-wide) are gimme picks - ones that simple deduction can lead to several nominees, the Selke and the top defensive-forward position is always one that is due scrutiny. It's one that requires you to go back through the stats to make a case for any player on the roster and why they are strong defensively. And by "going back through the stats," I don't mean by reflecting on plus / minus and using that as the ultimate qualifier of a players defensive prowess. That's outright foolishness.
We've had internal discussion on Raw Charge the past two seasons that focus on the Selke award and the Lightning roster. Some of it comes from quick-take opinions on players, when someone gets nominated. Others are derived from the numbers that players put up in a vast array of categories.
Nate Thompson was the team leader, or among the team leaders, in penalty-kill time-on-ice, face-off percentage, take-aways (with a low give-away total of 14 in 79 games) and blocked shots. He was the go-to guy for defensive situations and would be pitted against other teams top lines...
...Along with Adam Hall.
These two were the top defensive forwards on the team. While others can be applauded for their work on five-on-five situations, and being responsible, it was Thompson and Hall who were expected to do the ugly work for the team, along with chipping in occasionally on offense from opportunities here and there. Hall himself was also in the running for this... Though his numbers trailed to Thompsons, and that not-reliable stat of plus / minus was greater for Hall ( minus-12) than for Thompson (minus-six?).
This goes to Thompson. He's been the best two-way forward on the team since his acquisition in January 2010 off waivers.
Calder Trophy - Rookie of the year - F Dana Tyrell
A default selection, as Dana was the only rookie on the Tampa Bay Lightning roster for more than a handful of games this season. Tyrell played mostly on the 4th line with Hall and Thompson, forming the reliable DNA line (Dana-Nate-Adam). His 15 points this season was fitting for a fourth liner in his first NHL season.
Ryan Classic Nickname of the Year Award - Sean "Isberg" Bergenheim
Sean Bergenheim's role, as Steve Yzerman requested of him when he was signed in the 2010 off-season, was to be an agitator. To do physical work as well as try to chip in here and there. At times, we saw the flashes of the offensive talent Bergenheim was supposed to have, but hadn't been renown for in his NHL career thus far (5 seasons with the New York Islanders, notching 8 goals on average a season).
It was during one of those flashes, a late, crash the crease goal against the Dallas Stars on October 18th, that led to Raw Charge member DetroitALLtheWay09 (now known as Let's JOE WINGS-BOLTS) to marvel in the abilities of "The Ice berg". A couple of days later, Cassie McClellan remarked during another game thread of her preference to "Isberg", which was partly because Iceberg is also a lettuce, and because Bergeinheim's last name is Swedish (though he is Finnish). The Swedish version of ice berg is is berg...
And it stuck.
Club Two-Minutes Achievement Award - December 28th vs. Boston Bruins. Stamkos "boarding" of Gregory Campbell
Conspiracy theorists had enough to work with as-was regarding the breach in ethics in the NHL discipline area. I'm not going to get into that again. But this hit, and the call after it did nothing to stop the claims of bias and preferential treatment.
Among the Raw Charge community, it spawned belief in the term "Campbellized".
In a tough, hard-fought game, a bad call leads to a power play that leads to the benefactor of a bad call winning the game. This can be seen as a prime example of why refs shouldn't decide hockey games. It can also be seen (for conspiracy theorists) as prime evidence of the sway Colin Campbell held over officials when his son was involved.