To get your mind temporarily off last night's loss to the Canucks in Game 1 of the playoffs, and your cursing Roberto Luongo's name for the ridiculous saves he made, I wanted to hand out the regular season hardware.
Mostly, I want to give out the awards before the playoffs have a chance to cloud my vision, For better or for worse, regular season awards are just that, and shouldn't be judged through the lens of what the player did in the postseason.
So without further ado, I present to you the Rundown's first-ever Bluesies! Wow, that's just an awful name, isn't it? Good god, Aaron, is that really the best you can do? Oy.
Most Valuable Player: Chris Mason, Goaltender
I really fought myself on this one, you know. I wanted so badly to give it to one of the exciting young player the Blues have, one of those guys who just seemed to ignite the whole team when they were on the ice. Problem is, I couldn't.
Let's face it: for all the talk about how much the youngsters improved, and how much the team as a whole grew over the season, the Blues started winning when the goaltending got good. Over the first few months of the season, Mason himself was awful
, and Manny Legace
was wildly inconsistent, turning in alternately great and lifeless performances. When Mason took over full-time, he gave the team a chance to win each and every night. There was certainly growth made by the Blues this year, and it was a joy to witness. But Mason is the man who made all of this possible.
Offensive Player of the Year: Brad Boyes
The numbers don't lie. Brad Boyes was the Blues' most productive player this season. He led the team in points, and it wasn't even close. Boyes finished the season with 72 points; David Backes was second with 54.
Boyes led the team in both goals and assists, with 33 and 39, respectively. He played in every game, providing consistent, nightly performance. Keith Tkachuk may be the soul of the team, and the kids might be the engine that drove the Blues to their remarkable turnaround, but Boyes is the best player on the ice for the Blues, period. He may not be as flashy as some of the other players, but when it comes right down to it, Boyes gets the job done, and that's what makes him the man.
Defenseman of the Year: Barret Jackman
The year before the lockout, Barret Jackman won the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year. Then, along comes hockey's lost year, and when the game comes back, Barret Jackman looks like it passed him by somewhere along the way. He had never been a great puck handler, but the past couple of years, Jackman has looked at times like he literally had no idea what to do with the hockey puck. Worse yet, the shutdown defensive play he showed his rookie season was nowhere to be found, as he played tentative, seemingly afraid of getting beaten by superior skaters.
All of that changed this year, as Jackman looks to have come in to his own. His puck handling improved dramatically, and more importantly, he began attacking the corners, aggressively hitting opposing players and disrupting their schemes. In short, Jackman looked like the guy we all thought he was going to be when he came up. Honorable Mention: Carlo Colaiacovo
Rookie of the Year: T.J. Oshie
I thought I was going to give this award to Patrik Berglund, right up until the moment that I typed Oshie's name. Berglund was such a consistent performer for the Blues this year, with only a little slump at the end, that I think he needs to be recognized for it. Unfortunately, I just can't vote against Oshie.
Oshie is one of the most exciting young players in hockey today, with the kind of moves, vision, and puck handling skills that just don't come around all that often. If Mason's goaltending was the biggest factor in the Blues' miraculous run this season, then the return of Oshie, after missing significant time early in the season to injury, is surely a close second. He's physical, he's remarkably quick, and he has that knack for the highlight that you just can't teach. In short, T.J. Oshie is a star in the making; we can only hope he can stay healthy. If he can, the sky is the limit. Honorable Mention: Patrik Berglund
The Great Leap Forward Award: David Backes
Not too long ago, I wrote about David Backes
, and how much less attention he gets than the other youngsters on this hockey team. Which, to be fair, isn't really all that surprising, as Backes, while certainly talented, was never thought to be this guy.
Every facet of Backes' game took a huge step forward this year, from his puck handling to his footwork to his physicality. I'm not quite ready to christen the Blues' next big-time power forward just yet, but all of the ingredients are certainly there. If Backes can continue to play the way he did this year in the future, it won't be long before the people in this town forget how to spell Tkachuk. Well, that's if any of us had ever really learned in the first place. Honorable Mention: Jay McClement
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we do an awards show here at the Rundown. Next year I'm thinking Billy Crystal. I think he may actually be in our price range by now.