Awarded to the player who exceeded fan expectations. That’s the criteria.
We’ve reached the halfway point of the season so I ask, who has exceeded your expectations thus far?
In no particular order:
Brad Marchand – Just like a fine wine, he gets better with age. But did you really expect him to be this good? When others begin to slow down at this point, he is still the most dominant left wing in the game and can impact the game in all situations. PP, PK, 5V5, leadership. Did we expect a tail off?
Linus Ullmark – I’m not sure what the percentage is, but there is a large portion of fans that want him to waive his NMC and get traded out of town. Through the first half, he has been the goaltender that has given the Bruins the best chance to win and he’s stealing some games too.
David Pastrnak – Off to a real slow start, he has been white hot in January. That’s the Pastrnak we all know and love. But his slow start hurt his stats and his team. Can’t really say he exceeded expectations. No one expected what we saw in the first couple of months.
Taylor Hall – Like Pastrnak, had a slow start and it wasn’t until Pastrnak was put on his line that he took off. That’s the Hall that we all wanted and expected. But the first couple of months was not what we expected.
Derek Forbort – Like Ullmark, there are a number of fans who can’t wait to ship him out of town. Once he got accustomed to a new team and system, he has brought what was expected: Solid PK minutes and solid defensive play.
Connor Clifton – Cliffy hockey is good at what he is. Jakub Zboril took his spot. Does anyone think Clifton would be getting regular duty had Zboril not been injured? Maybe as an injury replacement, yes.
Charlie McAvoy – I mean, we expected this right? I know I did. So close to setting career highs in goals, assists and points. Heck, I might have expected just a tad more offence. So, has he exceeded your expectations?
Brandon Carlo – Like some of the others above, Carlo didn’t have a great start to the season. But he has been better lately and even jumping up into the offence like never before. We’re getting a better all-around game lately, but you can’t ignore the slow start.
Mike Reilly – Another slow starter this season and even got benched. Like the rest of the team, has been better in January. But I expected that all season so has he exceeded expectations? I think not.
Matt Grzelcyk – Offensively, the numbers weren’t there early but he was still Gryz in every other aspect of his game. He’s doing exactly what was expected of him.
Nick Foligno – Has brought everything that was expected of him except the offense. So, how could you?
Erik Haula – Like so many on this list, Haula didn’t have a great start to the season. And it wasn’t until the new year and the line juggling that he started to provide some necessary offense.
Anton Blidh – Has really done well to earn a regular spot in the lineup and that has exceeded my expectations. And his 8 points in 22 games is also a surprise. But he’s only played in just over half the games right now. Does that make him worthy?
Charlie Coyle – Started out as the second line center and it didn’t work. Has been much better on the third line. Does he lose out because he didn’t succeed on line 2?
Thomas Nosek – I don’t know about everyone else, but Nosek has been exactly what I had thought and hoped he could be. Not flashy but plays his role.
Curtis Lazar – Like Nosek, Lazar has come as expected for me. I know there are fans that don’t want him in the lineup, but what were you expecting?
Craig Smith – I don’t know about you, but I was certainly expecting more than 5 goals from Smith at this point, especially since he’s been on the top line with Bergeron and Marchand.
Jake DeBrusk – The trade request aside, since January, he’s been playing like the DeBrusk of old. But the first few months of the season was a train wreck at times. Had he done this since the start of the season, hands down he would take this.
So, at the midway point of the season, who is your nominee?