Award Winners for the Bolts
The entirety of SB Nation's Hockey blog community have contributed a list of their own-team award winners for the Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Selke award. We've also been voting for league award winners for all of these trophies, but that's another post for another time.
At any rate, I'd like to define and defend Raw Charge's selections for the Tampa Bay Lightning award winners. I mostly find them to be no-brainers but there is one quirk that should be discussed, derided and debated in the comments:
Raw Charge's 2008-09 TBL Award Winners
Hart (Most Valuable Player) - Martin St. Louis (RW) -- If there is one story that has carried on all year through the controversies, the adversity, the ups and the downs of the Lightning, it's been Martin St. Louis' contributions on and off the ice. He's been a leader in the locker room and an offensive force on ice (29G 49A, +/- 6). His intensity never seems to deminish and his desire to compete never seems fased, even with the chips stacked against the Bolts. He's been what has kept faith in the Lightning, even while other factors have tarnished or destroyed that faith.
Vezina (Top Goaltender) - Mike Smith - circumstances made me think a little longer about this one than seemed necessary. Mike Smith is the guy for the Lightning... or was until Post Concussion Syndrom sidelined him. Stats alone make it a no-brainer (41 games played, 40 starts, 2.62 GAA, .916 Save Percentage). All that being said, Smith played his half-season with a more experienced defensive corp in front of him. The guy, in Smith's steed, Karri Ramo, has been a bright spot and the only reason the Bolts have lasted so long in some games. Ramo's efforts in 21 games isn't accurately reflected in his stats, with thanks to the AHL-level defensive corp in front of him (3.59 GAA, .898 Save Percentage). I would love to see Ramo playing behind a solid defense, and think his stats would reflect it... but that's a pipe dream at current.
Selke (Top Defensive Forward) - Martin St. Louis (RW) - Again with Marty. This isn't a one-season thing as so much a truth for years that has continued this season. While I could spread the wealth around and tip my cap to ryan Malone or Jeff Halpern for their efforts, Marty has been consistently a force during the PK and thoroughly responsible at his own end.
Norris (top Defenseman) - Not Applicable - Demeaning towards the efforts of the Bolts D? Maybe. But is it any less true? Only four defensivemen played for more than half the season (with two only inching in -- 42 games played). What I truly find demeaning to the 21 defensivemen the Lightning have used this season would be to single out the efforts of one above all. Lukas Krajicek could have been named by default because he survived up until this point... But this isn't Survivor where the last man standing wins the prize. The efforts of just-over-half-a-season seem to be more worthy of "I'd liek to forget the season" than something to compliment even if there was solid play while healthy (Paul Ranger).
Calder (Rookie of the Year) - Mike McKennna (goalie) - Just kidding!
Steven Stamkos (center) - The other No-brainer award, much liek the Hart award, is Stamkos as the Rookie of the Year for the Lightning. I don't think I need to flesht his out any ut after a slow start, Steven has blossomed into a force in the NHL with 22 goals and 22 assists. This could be the start of something amazing... Now lets only hope management doesn't put all their eggs into one basket and trade off certain other players, assuming all they need is one scoring center.
There you have it...