With the Olympic break upon us, here are some awards for the
first half of the NHL season.
HART TROPHY Teemu Selanne, Ducks. Has league-leading 41 goals
without the benefit of a bona fide No. 1 center.
NORRIS TROPHY Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings. Runs power play and
is essential part of NHL's top-ranked penalty-killing unit;
plays about 27 minutes a game.
CALDER TROPHY Sergei Samsonov, Bruins. Quick, strong and
talented; tied for third among rookies in scoring (25 points);
unlike most first-year players, shows no sign of hitting the wall.
SELKE TROPHY Michael Peca, Sabres. Valuable face-off man and
tenacious penalty killer; most star players hate to face him.
VEZINA TROPHY Martin Brodeur, Devils. His ability to handle puck
and make big saves forces teams to alter their style.
BEST DEFENSIVE DEFENSEMAN Chris Pronger, Blues. Leads league in
plus-minus at +32; big (6'5", 207 pounds), punishing hitter.
MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER Teppo Numminen, Coyotes. Reliable
defenseman can move puck and play right or left side; his
coaches and teammates appreciate his value.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER Jason Allison, Bruins. Had eight goals and
26 assists in 1996-97, but this season the former first-round
draft pick already has 20 goals and 33 assists.
BEST FREE-AGENT SIGNING Andy Moog, Canadiens. Has 2.44
goals-against average, but real value is teaching 23-year-old
co-No. 1 goalie Jocelyn Thibault how to be winner.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR Tom Barrasso, Penguins. Shoulder
injury limited him to five games last season but has returned
better than ever (2.07 goals-against average, .922 save
percentage and six shutouts).
PLAYER GETTING THE LAST LAUGH Larry Murphy, Red Wings. Thought
to be over the hill at 36, was traded to Detroit last March and
helped Wings win Cup; just as steady on the backline this season.
Pierre McGuire coached the Hartford Whalers in 1993-94.
COLOR PHOTO: C. ANDERSEN/B. BENNETT STUDIOS NOT TEPID ON TEPPO Numminen gets our vote as the league's most underrated player. [Teppo Numminen]