It’s hard to believe the 2014-15 regular season is already half over.
The Pacific Division will reach its halfway point tonight, as focus shifts from early-season point grabbing to determining teams’ true playoff chances or lack thereof.
In the season’s opening half, we’ve seen the two-time defending Pacific Division champions open up a sizable lead atop the division, the defending Stanley Cup champions go up and down thanks to a poor road and shootout record and a surprise team from Alberta surge into playoff contention before evening out a bit.
Only three teams get an automatic bid into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but five teams in the Pacific are contenders going into the back half of the season. The next three months will showcase an exciting race to the finish in both the Pacific Division and Western Conference.
Without further ado, here are the Pacific Division mid-season awards:
BEST TEAM – Anaheim Ducks
Look no further than the back-to-back reigning, defending division champs for this award. The Anaheim Ducks (26-9-6) have opened up a nine-point lead over the rest of the division, in part because of their division-leading 21 regulation/overtime wins.
Anaheim overcame the loss of Corey Perry, who has missed 15 games this season, as they continued to thrive. Ryan Getzlaf leads the way with 45 points in 41 games, 16 more than any other Duck.
Frederik Andersen has been solid in net, posting a .916 save percentage in 34 starts. The Ducks still have an ace up their sleeve in John Gibson if needed down the stretch.
BEST FORWARD – Joe Pavelski (SJ)
Possibly the most underrated player in the division, Joe Pavelski is having a sensational start to the season.
He leads the division and is tied for fourth in the NHL in goals with 21 and is tied for the third-most points in the Pacific with 37.
Pavelski is not only scoring, he’s driving possession (+7.4 percent Fenwick for relative) and winning faceoffs at a 55.9 percent clip.
Able to play any forward position, the 30-year-old American is a valuable player that is en route to his second consecutive 40-goal season.
Runners-up: Ryan Getzlaf (ANA), Jiri Hudler (CGY)
BEST DEFENSEMAN – Mark Giordano (CGY)
What more can be said about the play of Mark Giordano? He ranks second in the NHL in goals (10) and assists (25) by a defenseman. A driver of possession on a mediocre possession team, he and partner T. J. Brodie are a major reason the Calgary Flames have returned to somewhat prominence. Giordano is a serious Norris Trophy contender.
Runners-up: Marc-Edouard Valsic (SJ), T.J. Brodie (CGY)
BEST GOALTENDER – Jonathan Quick (LA)
Jonathan Quick has played the second most minutes and faced the second most shots of any goalie in the Pacific Division, yet is tied for the division lead in save percentage (.917) and shutouts (3). Quick is a major reason the Kings have been able to survive an inconsistent start to the season to remain contenders.
Runners-up: Frederik Andersen (ANA), Jonas Hiller (CGY)
BEST ROOKIE – Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)
This one’s obvious. Johnny Gaudreau is an elite talent that is running roughshod over the NHL at the ripe young age of 21. Gaudreau ranks second among rookies in goals (13), assists (18) and points (31), behind only Filip Forsberg. There’s a reason why they call him “Johnny Hockey.”
Runners-up: Josh Jooris (CGY), Tanner Pearson (LA)