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02-11-2013, 12:51 PM
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MVP: Even though Dubnyk's the popular choice (and not undeservedly so), I'm going to go with Schultz. Dubnyk's been playing great, but he's also lost the team a few games as well and the San Jose stinker still lurks in the back of mind.

Schultz, on the other hand, has stepped in as a 22-year old rookie defenceman and played like a vet in his late-20s. Calm and collected in his own zone, offensively capable (7 points in 20 games), and plays in all situations (averaging over 23 minutes per game). The guy has stepped into the best league in the world and made it look easy. If Tarasenko weren't lighting up the scoreboard, Schultz would be a shoo-in for the Calder.

MIP Gagner and Hemsky are candidates here, but since I skipped him in the MVP, I gotta go with Dubnyk - even though he hasn't really improved much (he was playing pretty well the last half of last season.

Strongest Area of the Team Special Teams. Over half of the teams' goals have been scored on the PP (14/27) and the team is rocking a 24% PP conversion rate. Likewise, the team is 6th in the league in PK, killing close to 87% of the team's penalties.

Coaching/System First of all, I like that Krueger is not pulling his own version of the Mac-Blender and giving lines a chance to gel. He's also not been Renney-like in his willingness to play the youngsters on the top line (facing tough competition), which IMO is the right move. Sooner or later, they need to sink or swim against the other team's top lines and despite the growing pains they're experiencing now, I think it's the right move. I also like the fact that he's playing Horcoff at around 15:00/game (where he can still be effective) and he hasn't been afraid to bench underperforming players like Whitney.

That being said, the team still seems to get hemmed into their own zone 5 on 5 a lot, but I'm not sure whether that's the fault of the players or the system.

- Hall scoring almost a PPG while appearing unimpressive doing so
- Gagner stepping up his game
- Hemsky not being the bum he's been the past few years
- Dubnyk stepping up his game considerably
- RNH still being defensively responsibly while he's going through a rough patch offensively
- Paajarvi looks faster and more physical
- Hartikainen looks like he's finally ready to stick with the big club
- Smid still bringing the sandpaper
- Justin Schultz
- Yakupov (when he's been good)
- Comebacks - two years ago, this team would've completely folded down by 2 goals going into the 3rd period. No longer.

Areas for Improvement:
- Being able to pass it out of the defensive zone
- Turnovers
- Games where they don't seem to shoot the puck
- 5 on 5 play
- Defensive coverage
- Consistency

Overall Grade B. I was expecting them to finish 8-10th in the conference, and that's where they currently sit.

Revised Outcome: Same. I still see them being in a battle for the final playoff spot.

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