Monday, June 23, 2008

Wrapping Up the YIG Awards

I want to start talking about free agency and trades and shit, but I haven't finished those playoffs awards I started a while back. So let's just wrap those up real quick.

WTF!? Award
Goes to player who cowboyed up the most in the postseason, relative to their regular season performance. Nominees: Dallas Drake, Jiri Hudler, Val Filppula.

Winner: Hudler
Filppula had a strong regular season, but at times was electric in the playoffs (much like last year). To boot, he did it all on a pretty seriously banged up knee. The complaint about Fil though is that he didn't really show up when he was most needed, namely Johan Franzen's absence. Drake is a very close second, as he went from a fourth line minute eater to a third line energy guy extraordinaire, gaining notoriety especially for his vicious hits. Mike Babcock's infamous quote said it best: "Dally loves running defensemen and I love watching him run defensemen." But I've got to give it to Hudler.

The Oompa Loompa had a disappointing start to the season when he was paired mostly with Fil and Sammy or with Z and Sammy. After putting up fantastic numbers in extremely limited time last season, Hoodlum was expected to jump up the second line and completely failed to do so. As the season went on Babcock moved him to the third and fourth lines, although importantly kept him on the second power play unit. When the playoffs arrived, Hudler stayed right there, but his production jacked up - he was the catalyst on the Wings' potent second PP unit (Franzen got a lot of credit, but he was more of a finisher rather than starter) and maybe more importantly, he was the playmaker on the Wings' critical fourth line. His puck control led to goals small in number but huge in clutchness, as well as keeping the Wings deep in the opposing zone while teamed with Mac and Helmer. Strong work Jiri.

Baddest Ass Beard Award
Self explanatory. Nominees: Dan Cleary, Kris Draper, Henrik Zetterberg.

Winner: Draper
Z had a strong showing but didn't really compare to Cleary and Draper's pirate beards. If I had handed this one out last year it would have gone to Buckets for his red monstrosity, but this year his jaw surgery clearly had him playing catch-up. Furthermore, Kris "Chuck Norris" Draper (not to be confused with Norris Nick) sealed the deal by actually scoring a goal with his beard, and also refusing to shave it off when his chin required stitches. Truly, a god amongst beards. Pavel Datsyuk deserves honorable mention for actually managing to pull off a decent goatee for the first time.

Manliest Motherfucker Award
Goes to the motherfucker who went most balls out in the playoffs. Nominees: Dallas Drake, Val Filppula, Pavel Datsyuk. Popular choice nominee: Johan Franzen.

Winner: Tomas Holmstrom
I know I didn't nominate Holmstrom, but a dude can change his mind, alright? Filppula deserves mad credit for playing on a bum knee and Drake does as well for the viciousness of his hits (as does Kronner). I was originally going to give the award to mah boy Datsyuk for the way he totally blew up physically and manhandled the opposition (particularly the renowned bitch-ass, Gary Roberts. What would he do, anyway? Be a bitch, that's what.) Commenters demanded Johan Franzen, and indeed, playing with a brain injury is pretty frigging balls out. I didn't originally think of Mule because he actually didn't play once they found out about the injury, and he was kept out for a very long time (not that it was his fault). But in retrospect, even after his subdural hematoma had healed it takes serious balls to put your noggin out there again. Just ask Jason Williams, who completely wilted after taking a concussion early last year. The Wings ended up trading him because he became so averse to physical play even after recovering.

But then I found out Tomas Holmstrom, who on an average day takes a vicious beating, did his usual job while suffering from not only knee and hamstring issues but also a frigging sports hernia that he got before the playoffs even began. The abuse Homer takes in front of the net ought to merit him at least a nomination in this category anyway, although I'm ashamed to admit I didn't even think of it. Holmstrom is kind of like Nick Lidstrom (this is the only time the two will ever be compared, ever) in that he does his job so regularly and completely and so rarely falters that you just expect it and forget to praise him for it.

But then add the injuries he was dealing with already? Bingo. There's your Manliest Motherfucker. Would have won the award last year too, btw, had I handed it out. Remember 13 stitches, and then back the next period? Honorable mention goes to Ryan Malone, who was a frigging warrior for going out there with twenty broken noses or whatever. It's shitty that the Wings will probably be playing him 8 times a season next year with the BJs, but then again it will be fun to watching Pavs upend his ass 8 times a year.