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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Who should be MVP?

Well this is very pleasant crow to eat. First, the seventh-man advantage I’d forecast would be crucial to the Wilkes-Barre/Penguins in a projected game six victory over the Chicago Wolves? Well, they left the Wachovia Arena in WBS at the end of the second frame last night. Not a factor.

It was among a string of misperceptions I’ve written about the baby Pens. Unless a miracle occurs, the Calder Cup is coming to Chicago and the Chicago Wolves. Consider that Ondrej Pavelec was able to maintain his composure in game one. That game was opened with a tribute to Manitoba Moose player Luc Bourdon. Apparently Bourdon and Pavelec were close in juniors. Pavelec, standing alone in the crease, first learned of Bourdon’s death during the on-ice tribute.

I bring this up because it is clear this series is over. But we need to consider who is the MVP? There are lots of worthy candidates. The fact that the blue line stepped up, basically holding onto their discipline in the face of two out of control teams: Toronto and the WBS Penguins, is remarkable. This didn’t happen last year and it didn’t happen earlier in the playoffs.

The Wolves blue line, if an MVP could be given to a group, would deserve the MVP.

And the various offensive lines of the Wolves all performed. The opposition has been able to limit the success and the goals of the first line of Jason Krog and Darren Haydar. Play put Joe Motzko and Brett Sterling off the ice with another standout, Steve Martins. Martins, who was on the Wolves team that won its first Turner Cup championship ten years ago has added so much heart to the ice. Again, if a group could be chosen, this group deserves an MVP.

But only one person can receive it. I’ve thought about it and talked about it with Jane Rickard. I’m sure she has her own ideas about this. If I could vote it would be for rookie goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Time and again he has been the key to the Wolves winning and the series of games in which he has nearly shutout the opponents or given up one goal--- well I’ve enjoyed watching him.

There isn’t one point or play that I can remember that is the turning point. There is just a gradual awareness that we have seen excellence on ice in this posed young goalie. He has survived 5:3 plays, shaken off the occasional goal, listened to the news of the death of a friend, and he has moved from the young goalie that went down to early in September to a guy who will be a great asset for an NHL team.

Clearly, the Wolves season would have been different if Pavelec hadn’t been given this chance. I hope the people who do vote agree.

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