Time to hand out some pretend midseason awards. Why? Because everyone else is doing it and we're unoriginal. Here they are, fantasy hockey style…
Best single game statistical performance
These were the games that caused owners to distract the rest of the office the next morning with their furious fist-pumping after noting that their fantasy squad just moved up to first place. All on the basis of one player's performance.
Nominated — Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins, Dec. 17
3-2-5, plus-1, 0 PIM, 2 PPPts, 1 GWG and 4 shots
That's in the middle of what is currently a run of 29 points in 16 games. Remember when Bodog had him at 30-1 preseason odds for the scoring title?
Nominated — Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nov. 21
2-2-4, plus-3, 0 PIM, 8 shots and the game winner
Sid returns with a bang. And with just one day of advanced warning about his return, many of his owners in weekly leagues were in panic city.
Nominated — Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs, Oct. 8
1-2-3, plus-2, 1 PPG, 4 PIM, 3 shots
Phil Kessel had four points in that game, but in Lupul we have the luxury of a player who scores and knows what a hit is. Actually, Kessel is on pace for a whopping 16 hits, which would bury his previous high of 13 set in 2009-10.
Nominated — Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers Oct. 29
1-3-4, plus-4, 4 shots
This was back when his dream season looked like a "hot start".
Nominated — Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins, Dec. 5
46 shots faced, one goal allowed against Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby in the lineup
This game put the exclamation mark on the statement "Boston's Cup hangover is history".
Winner — Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins, Dec. 23
3-2-5, plus-5, 0 PIM, 3 shots, 1 SHG and the game winner
What's been great about Marchand this season is that when he's not putting up any points, he's posting big PIM numbers. Cool stat: In 130 career games he's a plus-47.
Biggest Fantasy Hockey Surprise
These players were either not drafted at all, or they were chosen so late that the fantasy GM was literally struggling with a decision — this guy, or Jonathan Cheechoo.
Nominated — Kris Versteeg, Florida Panthers
The underrated Versteeg has clicked with Stephen Weiss and the emerging Tomas Fleischmann to form, statistically, the best line in the NHL this season.
Nominated — Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs
Lupul will set a career high in points by late January thanks to strong chemistry with Phil Kessel combined with finally being healthy and in the prime of his career. It's been five years since he's last played 80 games, so Brian Burke is Lupul owners are keeping their fingers crossed.
Nominated — Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
See, Ilya? It is possible for a forward on this team to be a plus player! The Devils should call up another prospect and keep proving to Kovalchuk that it can be done. Henrique is second in the rookie scoring race and probably wasn't drafted in more than 1 percent of Yahoo! leagues, if I were to guess.
Nominated — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Poolies in one-year leagues knew that this was a boom or bust pick in one-year leagues, but most figured it would be "bust". Listening to the majority of experts, they would have figured that Hopkins "wasn't ready" or "wasn't strong enough" and that he would be a training camp cut. Even after a huge camp, the thinking out there was that he would get in nine games and then sent back to junior. Instead…only 17 players have more points.
Winner — Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues
Elliott went into camp competing with highly-touted prospect Ben Bishop for a job as a backup goaltender. Three months later, he leads the league in save percentage and is second in goals against average. The only reason that he doesn't have 20 wins at this point is because his contract is lacking the zeros that Jaroslav Halak's has. I would be shocked if he was drafted in a single league.
Goals, assists, shots, penalty minutes, best hair, plus/minus, power-play goals, biggest nose — these players have impressed in several categories.
Nominated — Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Still great value for points and shots on goal, but his plus/minus is the best of his career and he still offers decent penalty minutes too.
Nominated — Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers
Hartnell's penalty minutes are down this year (on pace for 115), but his points, power-play goals and plus/minus are each set to hit career highs. His plus/minus rating is 33 higher than Ilya Kovalchuk's and 42 better than Eric Staal's.
Nominated — Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs
Even if Loops slows down, he's still a decent bet to get 35 goals, 70 points, 70 penalty minutes and 240 shots on goal. If his back can hold out for an entire campaign, he'll push more than a few owners over the top.
Nominated — Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
He'll be 35 in March, yet he's probably going to set a career high in points. Chara's best fantasy season was in 2007-08 when he managed 51 points, 114 PIM and was plus-14. This season he's on pace for 59 points, 121 PIM and plus-54.
Winner — Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
I'm guessing you raised an eyebrow when you saw this name here, when so many big names were nominated. But Marchand is second in plus/minus (plus-25) and is the only player in the league with plus-9 or better who has more than 50 penalty minutes. He's on pace for 71 points, and his shot total is decent enough to also help.
These guys are good for one thing, and one thing only. They'll give you little help in the other areas of your league.
Nominated — Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Nominated for the second year in a row, his candidacy is hindered by a decent and actually helpful plus/minus rating (plus-8). Thornton scoring 36 goals is as much a faded memory as PJ Stock's hockey career.
Nominated — Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers
The assist machine is back, now that he's free of the crushing depth that was in Chicago. If he wasn't on pace for the second highest shot total of his career (prorated 137 shots) he would win this prestigious award.
Nominated — Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators
At 19-7, he'd be a shoe-in for the Cy Young. But that's his goals-assists ratio. Not many 40-goal scorers fall short of 60 points, but it could very well happen for Michalek. He's also a minus player with negligible penalty minutes.
Nominated — Zenon Konopka, Ottawa Senators
By this point, poolies are well aware of the stat this guy provides. But he's won 59.1 percent of his faceoffs and scored his first power-play goal in six years.
Winner — Zac Rinaldo, Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers' rookie is leading the league in penalty minutes, but will be lucky to have 10 points and 40 shots on goal come April. Rinaldo is also a minus-7, which is third worst on the team.
The Hot/Cold Award
These guys frustrate the hell out of you. You dress him for the week and he goes four games without a point. So you bench him and he tallies six points in three games. So you hurriedly dress him for the following week and craps the bed again. And so forth…
Nominated — Matt Moulson, New York Islanders
He has 17 points in his last 14 games and yet has just 28 on the year. That should tell you all you need to know about Moulson's streakiness, which is starting to become legendary.
Nominated — Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers
The impressive rookie has had a four-point game, a three-point game and a five-game run in which he tallied seven points. Outside of that he has seven points in 25 contests.
Nominated — Dennis Wideman, Washington Capitals
Wideman has nine points in his last eight games and he started 2011-12 with 10 in 10. In between, he's been miserable. Not only did he manage just four points in 16 games, but he was also a minus-13 during that middle window.
Nominated — Jiri Hudler, Detroit Red Wings
Hudler's return from a one-year stint in the KHL couldn't have been more meh. And then when he was a healthy scratch after starting off this season with four points in nine games, many owners bailed. In fact, even after that benching he managed just three in his next eight. But he put himself back on the map with 14 in his next 14. Another tease? Maybe. He has just one point in his last four games.
Winner — Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins
After one point in six games, Looch tallied 13 in his next eight. After that, he managed just two in eight before notching seven points in six games. He's given fantasy owners more ups and downs than the doctor does with Peter Griffin here: