GRETZ: NHL first-half review
Remember in your senior yearbook when they had all of those superlatives at the end? Most likely to succeed, yada, yada? This is like that. But instead of it being for a full year like your yearbook, this is for just half a season. And for hockey. That makes it way cooler.
So let's just get right into it: The best (and one worst) from the first half of the NHL season.
Best goal: Eric Fehr, Washington Capitals
The fact that this goal came in overtime after the Capitals overcame a 3-0 deficit against the Boston Bruins made it even better. But that was really hard to do.
Fehr splits the defensemen, who didn't make it easy for him, then manages to go top shelf over Tuukka Rask while falling to the ice and his stick way out in front of him. Winnipeg is wondering why Fehr couldn't do this last season when he was back home. He's been good for the Caps this season.
Best save: Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues
Was this one a case of being more lucky than good? Yes. Does that diminish its awesomeness? Not in the least.
You could give Allen 100 chances at that same exactly play and he probably doesn't stop that puck more than five times at most. Incredible.
Best streak: Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
With all due respect to the Chicago Blackhawks (OK, to be truthful this is really just a way to recognize Marleau), what Marleau did to the start the season was incredible. I mean nine goals in five games? That's nuts.
Like the Sharks, Marleau has cooled down considerably since then (the easiest prediction to make one week into the season) but that doesn't mean it wasn't awesome while it lasted. Four straight games with two goals and then one more in a fifth game. You don't see that often. OK, you never see that.
It helps when you get bounces like the one above -- his ninth goal in that stretch.
Best hit: Drew Doughty on Pavel Datsyuk
It hasn't been a great first half for Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, but this hit stood out. It looked like the Red Wings had a golden short-handed chance coming off the stick of Pavel Datsyuk until a backchecking Doughty laid him out, even popping off Datsyuk's helmet.
And notice how there was no fight that came after? A rarity in today's NHL, a big, clean hit and no fight. Nice, huh?
Best meltdown: Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes
Sorry to the rest of the field, this isn't even a contest. Any time a goalie loses it and smashes his paddle, it's good. When he does it on the ice in front of everybody and the cameras? It's great.
Not that I like to revel in others' misfortunes/misery, but seeing somebody lose their temper in a grand way is just funny sometimes.
Best taunt: Vinny Prospal, Columbus Blue Jackets
Hey, it's not often the Blue Jackets are hot and winning as they are right now, so Vinny Prospal took full advantage of it and simply pointed to the scoreboard. He didn't even have to chirp to have the best taunt this season.
Sadly and ridiculously, Prospal earned a 10-minute misconduct for the gesture, even though it wasn't profane or anything like that. Perhaps that makes it even cooler, though; he's a rebel.
Thing is, the Red Wings can't really complain about it too much. The season series is already over with the Blue Jackets and in five games, Columbus was 4-0-1. Remember that come playoff time and seeing where Detroit lands.
Best game: Red Wings vs. Blackhawks
There are obviously a lot of candidates here but this one sticks out for me. It wasn't a high-scoring game but it was intense and just terrific hockey.
It had the added drama of the Blackhawks' points streak being on the line and it looked like it might end until a delay of game penalty gave Chicago a late power play when Patrick Kane was finally able to end Jimmy Howard's shutout bid. Chicago went on to win in a shootout, 2-1.
We'll really miss that Chicago-Detroit rivalry in the new realignment.
Worst call: Matt Duchene goal for Avalanche
How far offsides can a guy be? Apparently a couple of feet.
What's most amazing about this play is there was really nothing obstructing the linesman's view of the play except possibly of a deflection in the neutral zone off the Nashville defenders. But any way you slice it, bad call. Even Duchene knew he got away with one, look how he slowed down and how muted his celebration was.
That's it for the first-half superlatives. I'm sure the second half will give us plenty of more choices by year's end.