Originally written on Kukla's Korner  |  Last updated 11/19/14

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 17: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates his second period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 17, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, With the San Jose Sharks being the last NHL team to play their 21st game of the season, every club has now reached or passed the first-quarter pole of the season. Here are our awards front-runners at this point: Hart Trophy 1. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers: Challenging for the NHL scoring lead, the dynamic center isn’t just about offense. His 200-foot game has come a long way, and coach Peter Laviolette trusts him in all situations. Giroux averages 2:44 minutes of short-handed ice time per game, which shows his all-around play. 2. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs: He’s held on to the NHL scoring lead for most of the season, scoring clutch goals for the surprising Leafs, and has improved in all aspects of his game. He averages only 10 seconds of short-handed ice time, though, which is why we gave the slight edge to Giroux at this point. continued
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