Handing out the NHL hardware


At last, we can truly and verily report we are at the quarter pole.

That's right, the NHL season has reached the final turn, and with just a quarter of a season to play and so much undecided, here's a look at our award winners at this late stage.

Hart Trophy: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Sorry to be predictable, but this is a runaway. Crosby continues to set the standard for greatness, leading the NHL scoring race by 11 points over Phil Kessel and leading the league in assists with 51 (to go with his 29 goals). Oh, sure, different players have taken a run at the top perch: Alex Steen, Patrick Kane, Ryan Getzlaf, Jonathan Toews and Alexander Ovechkin, who continues to crush the competition in goal scoring. This is Crosby's trophy, though, barring something dramatic happening in the final quarter. Runners-up: Getzlaf, Toews

Norris Trophy: Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
For a long time, we liked Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks to capture his second Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman, and the second-leading scorer among blueliners this season may yet get there. But right now we're giving the nod to the guy who should have won it last season. The strong play of the Wild and the leadership role played by Suter in keeping his team afloat in spite of injuries to key personnel -- including captain Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Josh Harding -- push him ahead of Keith as we head down the stretch. Suter continues to log more ice time per game than any player in the NHL, by a wide margin, including a healthy 2:34 average on the penalty kill. Runners-up: Keith; Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Vezina Trophy: Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
This is as tough a category as there is in terms of major awards. Carey Price has had an outstanding season for Montreal (and his Olympic performance reinforced his status as an elite NHL netminder), Tuukka Rask has done everything the Boston Bruins have asked, and Henrik Lundqvist has been his usual brilliant self for the New York Rangers after a so-so start. Look at Bishop's numbers, though. He's at or near the top of all the main statistical categories, including the most important: wins. It's hard not to dub him our netminder of the year (or netminder of three-quarters of a year), especially given the way the Bolts have maintained a healthy grip on a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division despite myriad injuries and other distractions. Runners-up: Price, Rask

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