The final week of the 2013-14 NHL regular season is here.
Players who still have a chance to move up in the awards voters’ rankings will only get three or four more opportunities to impress. Voters tend to reward late-season performance when figuring out their ballots, and two recent examples of this are Corey Perry and Alexander Ovechkin’s Hart Trophy victories in 2011 and 2013, respectively. These two players dominated offensively to carry their teams to the playoffs in the final month of the season.
We won’t have a nail-biting finish in the Hart Trophy race this season because Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is a near-lock for the award, but a few of the other races are still without a clear No. 1 candidate.
Check out the top candidates for each NHL award below.
Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player)
1) Sidney Crosby, Center, Pittsburgh Penguins
2) Ryan Getzlaf, Center, Anaheim Ducks
3) Gustav Nyquist, Right Wing, Detroit Red Wings
Crosby likely will win the award unanimously after one of his best seasons. He leads the NHL in scoring (102 points), assists (66), and ranks second in power-play points (37). He also has an impressive 52.3 faceoff percentage, and his 21:54 of ice time per game ranks second among forwards.
Pittsburgh has lost over 500 man games to injury this season, far more than any other team. One of the few consistent parts of its season has been Crosby, who hasn’t missed a single game. When he tallies a point, the Penguins are 47-18-4, compared to just 3-16-1 when he doesn’t. Crosby is even killing penalties this season, which helps show that he’s making more of an all-around impact than he has in previous seasons.
Getzlaf is having his best season as a pro with a career-high 31 goals, a 15.5 shooting percentage and 86 points (second-highest of career). He’s still the league’s top even-strength scorer with 3.14 points per 60 minutes. The Ducks captain also makes a strong impact defensively on the team’s top penalty kill unit, and his 84 blocked shots are the second-most among forwards. Getzlaf’s remarkable consistency has helped Anaheim stay atop the Pacific Division throughout the season. He’s failed to score in back-to-back games just three times and hasn’t had a scoring drought longer than two games.
Nyquist has made an incredible rise up the Hart Trophy rankings by almost single-handedly carrying the Red Wings to the brink of the playoffs. He’s the league’s top goal scorer since Jan. 20 with 23 tallies and has posted 47 points through 53 games (he wasn’t on the NHL roster to start the season because of salary cap issues).
With veteran stars such as Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Stephen Weiss missing a significant number of games due to injury, Detroit needed someone to step up and fill a top-six role, and Nyquist has done that. The Red Wings are 16-3-3 when Nyquist scores a goal, and with the team fighting for a wild-card playoff spot over the last three weeks, the 24-year-old winger has 12 goals in his last 12 games.
James Norris Trophy (Best All-Around Defenseman)
1) Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
2) Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
3) Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Chara has dominated defensively for a Bruins team that ranks second in goals against and eighth in penalty killing. He’s always matched up against the opponent’s top forwards, evidenced by his 29.9 QoC rating (third-best among D-men). As I showed in last week’s awards tracker, Chara is still the only defenseman with an offensive-zone start percentage below 50, a QoC rating of at least 29.5 and a 5v5 corsi-for percentage over 54. This shows how important he is to the Bruins’ possession game and keeping the puck out of the net.
Chara also is excelling offensively with 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) through 75 games. His 10 power-play goals are the second-most among D-men. No defenseman is making a stronger impact in all three zones than the Bruins captain.
Weber is in the midst of arguably his best NHL season. He’s the only D-man with at least 20 goals, 150 blocked shots and 150 hits. He leads all defensemen in goals (21) and power-play goals (11), while ranking fifth in power-play scoring (25). His 26:53 of ice time per game is the fourth-most in the league, and he spends 2:38 on the penalty kill and 3:08 on the power play each game. Weber also has the seventh-best QoC rating (29.7) among D-men and is always on the ice at the end of games, regardless of whether Nashville is protecting a lead or trailing.
Keith also has a strong Norris resume. He ranks second in scoring among defensemen with 60 points and second with 54 assists. He’s excelled defensively on the Blackhawks’ top pairing alongside Brent Seabrook and makes a meaningful impact on special teams.
Calder Trophy (Best Rookie)
1) Nathan MacKinnon, Center, Colorado Avalanche
2) Ondrej Palat, Left Wing, Tampa Bay Lightning
3) Hampus Lindholm, Defenseman, Anaheim Ducks
MacKinnon is the clear favorite for the Calder and should be a unanimous winner. He’s still the rookie leader in goals (24), assists (36), points (60), shots (225) and game-winning goals (five). MacKinnon is finishing strong with five points in his last five games, a span in which Colorado went 4-0-1. He’s playing over 17 minutes per game and impressing in a top-six role for one of the league’s best teams. That’s really impressive for an 18-year-old who entered the season under so much pressure to succeed immediately as the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft.
Palat ranks third among rookies in goals (20), second in assists (35) and second in points (60). He’s excelling in a top-six role despite playing against opponents’ top two defense pairings each game. When Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos missed more than three months recovering from a broken leg, Palat helped carry the Tampa Bay offense and keep the team in a playoff spot.
Lindholm has played a top-four role and is impressing at both ends of the ice for a Ducks team that’s been at or near the top of the league standings throughout the season. The 20-year-old ranks first among rookie D-men in plus/minus (plus-28), fifth in scoring (28), fifth in shots (114), fourth in assists (24) and seventh in ice time per game (19:27).
Lindholm is an exceptional skater who moves the puck quickly to start the breakout and allow Anaheim to overpower teams with speed. His high hockey IQ and good positioning allows him to create turnovers, break up passes with ease and force opponents’ shots to miss the net. He’s well on his way to becoming the elite-level defenseman Anaheim envisioned when it selected him No. 6 overall in the 2012 draft.
1) Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
2) Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
3) Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Rask has a sizable lead in the Vezina race with a league-best seven shutouts and a .942 even-strength save percentage. He’s also recorded an impressive 35-15-5 record and a 2.04 goals against average. His .930 save percentage is the highest among goalies who’ve played in at least 39 games. Rask is 9-1-2 in his last 12 starts and allowed two or fewer goals in eight of those games. He’s been the most consistent goaltender in the league (he hasn’t lost three consecutive games) for the team with the best record through 78 games.
Bishop has endured a heavy workload with 62 appearances (tied for second-most in NHL) but has still posted a stellar .924 save percentage and a 2.25 GAA. He also ranks second in even-strength save percentage (.932) and fourth in wins (37).
Quick ranks second in GAA (2.03) among goalies with 40 appearances and has posted a 27-17-2 record for one of the best defensive teams in hockey. His .932 even-strength save percentage ranks third among all goalies. Quick also is 10-4 in his last 14 starts and has carried a Kings team that struggles to score goals consistently (27th in scoring) to a playoff spot in the league’s toughest division.
Frank J. Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)
1) Patrice Bergeron, Center, Boston Bruins
2) Anze Kopitar, Center, Los Angeles Kings
3) Jonathan Toews, Center, Chicago Avalanche
There’s a great chance Bergeron wins the second Selke Trophy of his career in June. The Bruins center is the best possession player in the league with a corsi-for percentage of 61.2, which means Boston consistently controls the puck and outshoots its opponent whenever Bergeron steps on the ice. He’s also a dominant faceoff man with a 58.8 win percentage (fourth-best among players who’ve taken 500-plus draws) while leading the league in faceoffs won (992) and ranking third in draws taken (1,688).
Bergeron starts 34.5 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone and spends 2:00 of ice time per game on the Bruins’ top penalty kill unit (36.7 percent of total B’s short-handed time). He also plays against the other team’s best players on just about every shift, as evidenced by his 29.5 quality of competition rating. Bergeron has complemented his excellent defensive performance with 60 points (28 goals, 32 assists) in 78 games.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently polled NHL head coaches, and the majority of them had Bergeron as their Selke winner (note: PHWA members vote for this award).
BOS Patrice Bergeron clear Selke (top defensive forward) winner, 10 of 16 1st place votes, followed by (in order) Toews, Kopitar and Backes.—
Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 07, 2014
Kopitar has an impressive corsi-for rating of 60.9, a goals-for percentage of 67.6 and starts 30.9 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone. The Kings center has averaged 2:03 of short-handed ice time per game for the team that ranks No. 1 in goals against average. Kopitar also is excelling in the faceoff dot with a 53.3 win percentage and leads L.A. with 50 takeaways. In any other season, Kopitar probably would win this award, but Bergeron has a better resume on a stronger defensive team.
Jack Adams Award (Best Head Coach)
1) Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche
2) Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings
3) Claude Julien, Boston Bruins
Roy has been the favorite all season, and nothing has happened recently to change that. His Avalanche have overcome their inexperience and lack of elite defensive skill to post the seventh 100-point season in team history. The Avs also will have home ice in Round 1 against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks unless they really struggle over the last four games.
Roy has done a tremendous job creating a team culture in Colorado, and it’s evident in the team’s play. This group plays structured team defense and competes hard in all three zones, which are two reasons why they’re difficult to play against. Just ask the Blackhawks, who lost three of four games against the Avalanche this season.
Babcock has led the Red Wings to the brink of their 23rd consecutive trip to the playoffs despite being forced to use 10 to 15 players with little to no NHL experience throughout the season because of injuries to veterans such as Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson. Many players from last year’s Grand Rapids Griffins team that won the AHL title, including Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Gustav Nyquist, have been asked to play important roles. Babcock has developed these young players and put them into positions where they can succeed, all while overcoming so much adversity with all the injuries.
Julien’s Bruins are in position to win their first Presidents’ Trophy since 1989-90 with a 16-2-2 record since March 1.
Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) April 07, 2014
For the Bruins to be one of the best defensive teams (with four rookie D-men) with a high-scoring offense and a much improved power play after making substantial roster changes (including the departure of their most skilled forward in Tyler Seguin) in the offseason is a testament to Julien’s coaching. Coaches on elite teams rarely get enough consideration for the Jack Adams, which is one reason why Babcock has never won the award. With that said, Julien should at least be a finalist for the Jack Adams this year.
Advanced stats, such as CF percentage, GF percentage and TotTM percent QoC, courtesy of Extraskater.com. Here’s another helpful advanced stats link.
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