The NHL award races are starting to take shape, with most teams having about 10 games left on their regular-season schedules.
Similar to last year, we have a good idea of which players will be finalists for many of the awards, but several of the major trophy races still lack a clear front-runner.
One of the most intriguing races is the battle for the Jack Adams Award, which is given annually to the most outstanding head coach. Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche and Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning have been the top two candidates throughout the season, but the impressive late-season performances from the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings have vaulted Claude Julien and Mike Babcock, respectively, into the Jack Adams discussion.
Check out the top three candidates for the major NHL awards below.
Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player)
1) Ryan Getzlaf, Center, Anaheim Ducks
2) Sidney Crosby, Center, Pittsburgh Penguins
3) Claude Giroux, Center, Philadelphia Flyers
Getzlaf has scored a career-high 30 goals and ranks second in scoring with 79 points while also ranking third in primary points (62, two behind Crosby). He’s the top 5-on-5 scorer at 3.39 points per 60 minutes, has seven game-winning goals (third-most in the league) and the best shooting percentage (13.0).
The Ducks captain also is excelling defensively with 79 blocked shots (second-most among forwards), 50 takeaways and a goals-for percentage of 67.4 (third-best in league). Getzlaf is the only serious Hart Trophy candidate playing on the first-unit power play and penalty kill. He doesn’t have Crosby’s scoring totals, but Getzlaf is playing better defense and making a stronger overall impact on special teams.
Crosby has been the most consistent offensive player this season with a league-leading 94 points (34 goals, 60 assists) in 71 games. He’s also winning 52.4 percent of his faceoffs and ranks second in power-play points (35). Crosby’s scoring production has helped the Penguins lead the Metropolitan Division all season despite having to deal with more games lost to injuries than any other team.
The Flyers’ climb from the cellar in the Eastern Conference to a guaranteed playoff spot is directly linked to Giroux’s dominant play over the last three months. He’s tied for fourth in scoring with 74 points (24 goals, 50 goals) in 71 games, and Philadelphia is 18-2-0 when its captain scores a goal. Giroux also has tallied five game-winning goals and 31 power-play points while winning 52.8 percent of his faceoffs. In addition to his scoring, Giroux also provides his team with great energy on each shift and elevates the performance of his teammates by creating so many scoring chances each game.
James Norris Trophy (Best All-Around Defenseman)
1) Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
2) Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
3) Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Keith remains the top candidate for the Norris. He ranks second in scoring among D-men with 55 points, including a league-high 50 assists among blueliners. He also has 20 power-play points, 180 shots and averages 24:53 of ice time per game. From a defensive standpoint, Keith has been tremendous. He consistently plays against elite forwards (QoC of 28.8), and has tallied 82 blocked shots and 44 takeaways while also excelling on his team’s top penalty-killing unit.
Chara has been dominant defensively for Boston as a player who defends the opposing team’s best forwards on every shift, evidenced by his 30.0 QoC rating (third-best among defensemen). He also has 96 blocked shots and 26 takeaways, and he leads the Bruins with 3:13 of short-handed ice time per game. The Bruins captain is a major reason why the team ranks second in goals against and ninth in penalty killing and has the best third-period goal differential. Chara is making an impact offensively, too. He has tallied 35 points, including 17 goals (second-most in his career), nine of which were on the power play.
Weber has been fantastic for Nashville in all three zones. He has tallied 46 points (including 18 goals, third-most among D-men) and is playing incredible defense with 148 blocked shots, 27 takeaways and 26:56 of ice time (5:54 on special teams).
Calder Trophy (Best Rookie)
1) Nathan MacKinnon, Center, Colorado Avalanche
2) Ondrej Palat, Left Wing, Tampa Bay Lightning
3) Jacob Trouba, Defenseman, Winnipeg Jets
MacKinnon is making all of the people who thought Colorado should’ve taken Seth Jones with the top pick in the 2013 draft look foolish. The 18-year-old center still leads all rookies in points (54), goals (23), assists (31) and shots (203). He’s also a plus-18, averages 17:00 of ice time per game and has 15 power-play points. MacKinnon’s speed, high hockey IQ and poise allow him to play an important role on a top Western Conference team at such a young age. He’s the clear front-runner for the Calder.
Palat is one of the best unknown players in the league, and he ranks second in rookie scoring with 49 points (19 goals and 30 assists, which ranks second among rookies). His consistent scoring production during Steven Stamkos’ three-month absence from the Lightning lineup helped Tampa Bay remain in a playoff spot.
Trouba has been a defensive force for the Jets. He’s tied for second among rookies with 105 blocked shots, has tallied 22 takeaways and consistently plays against the opponent’s top players with a QoC rating of 28.7. He’s one of the few rookie D-men already capable of playing in a shutdown role.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender)
1) Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
2) Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
3) Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
Rask leads the league with a .930 save percentage, along with a 2.08 GAA and an impressive 32-14-5 record. He also has a league-leading six shutouts and the best 5-on-5 save percentage (.942). Boston has struggled out of the gate many times this season, but Rask keeps the Bruins in the game with important first-period saves that prevent the opponent from seizing control. Rask’s clutch play in the third periods of games are a primary reason why the Bruins own the best third-period goal differential and have allowed the fewest goals in the final frame (48). As a team, Boston ranks second in GAA and ninth in penalty killing.
Bishop is 34-11-7 with a 2.18 GAA and a .927 save percentage. He also has five shutouts and a stellar .936 5-on-5 save percentage. When the Lightning lost Stamkos for three months, Bishop had to play like an elite player consistently for the team to keep its position in the playoff race, and he did. His consistency has been remarkable, especially when you consider he doesn’t have an elite No. 1 defenseman or a Selke-caliber shutdown forward helping him.
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 Blackhawks
Bergeron is without question the league’s premier defensive forward. He has the best faceoff percentage (58.8) among players who’ve taken 350-plus draws while also leading the league in faceoff wins (970) and ranking third in draws taken (1547). The Bruins center also is the best possession player in hockey with a 61.0 CF percentage, ranks third among forwards with a 66.7 goals-for percentage, and his 9.6 relative CF percentage (best among forwards) means the Bruins become almost 10 percent better whenever Bergeron hops over the boards for a shift. He also starts 71.2 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the neutral or defensive zones and defends the opponent’s top players each game (QoC of 29.5). Even though it’s an overrated stat, Bergeron does lead the league in plus/minus (36).
Similar to Bergeron, Kopitar is a tremendous possession player with a CF percentage of 60.7 and a remarkable 67.7 goals-for percentage. He also has a QoC of 29.7 and excels on the penalty kill. The Kings center wins 53.6 percent of his faceoffs and is a major reason why Los Angeles ranks second in goals against. Even though Kopitar is an important scorer as the Kings’ top-line center, he still blocks shots, plays physical in all three zones and does the dirty work in front of the net. He’s one of the league’s most under-appreciated players.
Toews also has excelled defensively as an important penalty killer and top faceoff man for Chicago, but the reigning Selke winner isn’t likely to finish above Bergeron or Kopitar in this year’s voting.
Jack Adams Award (Best Head Coach)
1) Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche
2) Claude Julien, Boston Bruins
3) Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
The Avalanche are playing with tons of confidence and poise, and it’s because of their coach. Roy does an excellent job using his experience as a Hall of Fame player to teach his players how to react in certain situations. Colorado’s defensive improvement, specifically No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov’s consistently strong play, is a result of Roy’s coaching. As of Tuesday, the Avalanche are third in the Central Division and have more points than 23 teams.
Coaches on teams with the best records often are overlooked in Jack Adams voting, but Julien deserves a ton of credit for the Bruins sitting atop the league standings despite dealing with many injuries to key players, including three important defensemen (Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk). Boston also is the only team ranked in the top five of goals scored, goals against and possession (5-on-5 close FF percentage).
Very few teams would be able to overcome the loss of a player like Stamkos for three months and remain in the playoff race relying on young, inexperienced players. But with Cooper behind the bench, the Lightning are playing a structured game with quality defense and good decision-making. Former No. 2 overall pick Victor Hedman has been one of the league’s most improved players this season, and Cooper’s teaching is a primary reason why.
Advanced stats, such as CF percentage, GF percentage and QoC, courtesy of Extraskater.com
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