Best Defensive Player
(Forwards and defensemen are both eligible, as the award is for overall strong defensive play)
My vote goes to Anze Kopitar. His plus-25 rating is the highest on the team, and while the plus/minus stat doesn't tell the whole story, he was absolutely stellar on both sides of the puck this year. When he went out with an ankle injury, I predicted the Kings would miss him most on the defensive side of the puck since he was streaky in the goal scoring department. The Kings "Ironman" was a warrior protecting the puck all season long against some of the top lines in the NHL and more than earned this honor.
(This player can be either a rookie or a veteran who joined the team last summer or during this season)
For me, no new member of the team did more top to bottom this year than Kyle Clifford. In his rookie season, he fought his way into the line-up and kept fighting all season to prove he belonged there. Whether it was with his fists or his stick, The Big Red Dog won the Kings fans hearts and left everything he had on the ice every night. He earned the respect of not only his teammates but some of the toughest customers in the league. I can't wait to see what this kid does in his first playoff appearance.
I was really torn on this one, because Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi and Matt Greene have all been incredible this season. In the end, the thing that made up my mind was remembering a specific penalty kill where Greene lost his stick and played almost a solid minute - ON THE PK - without it. The tenacious look in his eyes as he skated in front of Quick ready to throw his body in front of any shots coming toward the net is burned in my brain forever. He is a warrior and a leader, and he puts this team before everything else every night. There is only one Matt Greene, and we're lucky to have him.
Most Valuable Player
While I agree there are a lot of great arguments for Anze Kopitar to be the MVP this season, for me no one has performed better when the chips are down than Jonathan Quick. During the roughest points of the season, he has carried this team on his back, stopped goals when the 5 other guys on the nice stopped skating and yet has always given credit to the team playing in front of him before taking any for himself. He's the most competitive guy in that locker room on any given night, and he'll do what it takes to win. Becoming the first goalie in franchise history to have back-to-back 30 win seasons doesn't hurt either.
So now that I've said my piece, who gets your vote for these awards?
GO KINGS GO!