- Scott Powers, Reporter
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The Chicago Blackhawks are halfway through the 48-game regular season, and there are plenty of highlights. They take an NHL-record 24-game points streak to start the season and a franchise-best 11 consecutive victories into their game against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.
Here's a rundown of the Blackhawks at midseason:
Team MVP: Patrick Kane. He was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons after last season. He took the opportunity during the NHL lockout to get himself squared on and off the ice, and he returned to the Blackhawks a different person and player. He's flourished so far with team-highs of 12 goals and 15 assists. He's among the league leaders in points and has put himself in the Hart Memorial Trophy discussion.
Offensive MVP: Marian Hossa. Kane's numbers are better, but you can't ignore Hossa's ability to produce in the clutch. Hossa leads the team with four game-winners. No one on the team has more than two.
Defensive MVP: Johnny Oduya. He is playing some of the best hockey of his career. He's tied with Jonathan Toews for a team-best plus-12 rating, which is also tied for 12th in the NHL. He's third on the team in average on-ice time and second among team defenseman with eight assists. In addition, the Blackhawks' entire defense has played well, allowing just 43 goals in regulation and overtime.
Goaltending MVP: Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. Both have been vital to the Blackhawks' success and both are in the league's top 5 in goals-against average and save percentage. Crawford is 11-0-3 with a 1.53 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. Emery is 10-0-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.
The Toews Trophy: Toews has been too good in all areas to overlook and deserves his own award. He's tied for first on the team in plus minus/minus rating (plus-12), tied for second in goals (10), tied for third in assists (11), leads the team with a 59.5 faceoff percentage and 30 takeaways and has two game-winning goals and one short-handed goal.
Unsung heroes: Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik. The Blackhawks' penalty kill has been among the league's best throughout the first half of the season. A big reason why the Blackhawks have improved more than 10 percentage points on the penalty kill since last season has been the play of Kruger and Frolik. Both have embraced their roles and succeeded.
Pass of the year: Kane delivered a no-look, backhanded pass to Hossa for a one-timer to defeat the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 24.
Goal of the year: The most athletic came from Brandon Saad when he shot and scored while in the air parallel to the ice against the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 12. As for drama, there are a number of goals in the mix. Daniel Carcillo's game-winner against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, Kane's game-tying goal and shootout winner against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday and Hossa's game-tying goal in the final seconds against the Calgary Flames on Feb. 2 have to all be considered.
Rookie of the year: Saad. He is the only official rookie on the team, but his play also deserves some recognition. He was tossed onto the first line after Carcillo was injured in the season opener and has more than held his own. Saad has produced more lately and has five of his nines season points in March.
Game of the year: A 3-2 shootout win vs. Calgary Flames on Feb. 2. The Blackhawks have played in 16 one-goal games, so there have been plenty of dramatic finishes. None have been more suspenseful than their road win over the Flames, though. The Blackhawks were outplayed for most of the night. The Flames went ahead 2-1 with 35 seconds remaining in the game. The Blackhawks pulled their goaltender in desperation, and Hossa scored with 2.3 seconds left to tie the game. Emery made a career-high 45 saves, including 22 in the third period, and stopped all three shootout shots. Kane scored the lone shootout goal and the Blackhawks' points streak reached nine games.
Game of the year honorable mention: A 2-1 shootout win vs. Red Wings on Sunday; a 6-2 win vs. Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 7; a 4-3 shootout win vs. Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 19.; a 3-0 win vs. Nashville Predators on Feb. 10; a 3-2 win vs. Avalanche on Wednesday.
Scott Powers reviews the Blackhawks' remarkable first half.