Tim Thomas, Bruins -- There hasn't been a better goalie or arguably a better story in the NHL this season. Thomas has re-claimed the No. 1 job in Boston after losing it to Tuukka Rask last season, when he battled a hip ailment and inconsistency. Thomas leads the NHL with a .957 save percentage and three shutouts. He was second in goals-against average at 1.45 and tied for seventh with eight wins in 10 starts. He had allowed only 14 goals on 324 shots.
Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings -- Someone forgot to tell Lidstrom that he was 40 years old. He's been dubbed "The Perfect Human" for good reason. It doesn't look like there is another defenseman in the NHL in better shape than Lidstrom, and there certainly hasn't been a blueliner that has played better this season. Lidstrom is riding an 11-game point streak. He leads all defensemen with 15 assists and is tied with Kris Letang with 17 points. He's still averaging more than 24 minutes of ice time per game.
Mike Green, Capitals -- Green always has been touted for his offense, but he also has been quite solid on the defensive end of the ice this season, which is why he gets this nod. Green has 5 goals, 8 assists and a plus-9 rating, and he is playing more than 25 minutes per game -- including more than three minutes per game on the penalty kill for the first time in his career. He's on the ice in the final minute of tight games and playing big minutes against the opposition's best players. He's held his own.
Steven Stamkos, Lightning -- Stamkos is first in the NHL with 15 goals and 28 points. Seven of his goals have come on the power play and 3 have been game-winners. He also is a plus-6. Stamkos has not fallen off one bit from last season, when his 51 goals earned him a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy. He's been efficient, too, scoring his 15 goals on just 67 shots for a 22.4-percent success rate, the best among players who have taken at least 50 shots.
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals -- Everyone knows Ovechkin for his goal-scoring ability, but for the second-straight season he's on pace to have more assists than goals. Ovechkin has 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points. He's tied for second in the League with 76 shots on goal, but that's still only an average of 4.2 per game; he averaged 5.1 per game last season and 6.7 per game in 2008-09. Ovi is making sure linemate Alexander Semin is getting the puck, too, and the entire team is benefitting as a result.
Corey Perry, Ducks -- His 20 points through 19 games certainly helps his cause, but Perry's all-round game really is what earned him this vote. He's been sensational at both ends of the ice and he's making plays away from the puck. He's also diving to block shots and playing key minutes on the penalty kill for the first time in his career. Perry is doing all of this while playing his same role offensively.