11:30 PM CDT, April 7, 2014
The regular season will end Sunday, and so will the voting period for the NHL's individual trophies.
Colorado Coach Patrick Roy is too brash to win any popularity contests but he deserves to win the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, an honor voted by NHL broadcasters. And although Sidney Crosby still has detractors, the Pittsburgh Penguins' center is the front-runner for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player, as chosen by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Assn.
Here's a rundown of whose performances should be rewarded with hardware:
Most valuable player (Hart Trophy): Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh. Honorable mention: Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks, Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers.
Crosby has done more than lead the league with 102 points in 78 games. He has elevated his consistent excellence and lifted his injury-ravaged team with him. He didn't miss a game until a minor upper-body injury sidelined him Sunday. Getzlaf (86 points, second to Crosby) is a strong leader for a team that still sometimes lacks discipline. Giroux overcame a slow start to ignite the Flyers' playoff push.
Jack Adams Award (coach of the year) Patrick Roy, Colorado. Honorable mention: Mike Babcock, Detroit, Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay.
The Avalanche finished last in the West last season and had bleak prospects until Roy injected life and confidence into a young team. His coaching experience in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League prepared him well. Babcock's motivational and tactical skills have kept the Red Wings in the wild-card playoff hunt despite a succession of injuries to key players. Cooper did a good job to keep the Lightning in a playoff spot while Steven Stamkos' broken leg healed and after Martin St. Louis asked to be traded. Kudos also to Claude Julien for keeping the Boston Bruins among the elite.
Calder Trophy (rookie of the year): Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado. Honorable mention: Hampus Lindholm, Ducks, Olli Maata, Pittsburgh, Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay.
MacKinnon, the top draft pick last June, has been an exceptional contributor (24 goals, 60 points) on a surprisingly good team. Lindholm's poise and plus-27 defensive rating are genuine. Maata is averaging 18 minutes 31 seconds' ice time for a team that had many injuries on defense. Czech-born Palat (20 goals, 55 points) has a bright future.
Vezina Trophy (best goaltender, voted by general managers): Tuukka Rask, Boston. Honorable mention: Semyon Varlamov, Colorado, Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay.
Rask has an outstanding team in front of him, but his numbers (2.04 goals-against average, .930 save percentage, league-best seven shutouts in 56 games) are too good to ignore. Varlamov (2.41, .927, league-leading 40 wins) has been exceptional while facing an average of nearly 30 shots per game. Bishop (2.23, .924, five shutouts) has kept the Lightning in a playoff position. Jonathan Quick of the Kings (2.03, .918, six shutouts) would have been a prime candidate if he hadn't lost seven weeks to a groin injury.
Selke Trophy (best defensive forward): Anze Kopitar, Kings. Honorable mention: Patrice Bergeron, Boston, Jonathan Toews, Chicago.
Always a tough choice, but with the schedule ensuring every team played every other team, East-based media now know and rave about Kopitar's two-way skills. Bergeron is having an excellent season, too, and Toews never wavers at either end of the ice. No bad choices there.
Norris Trophy (best defenseman): Duncan Keith, Chicago. Honorable mention: Ryan Suter, Minnesota, Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis.
Keith is the consensus pick, with reason. He has 60 points and is plus-21 for the defending champion Blackhawks while averaging 24 minutes and 37 seconds' ice time per game. But Suter, who averages a league-leading 29:43, is the pillar of a team that has endured chaos in goal. And Pietrangelo has 51 points, 161 blocked shots, and is plus-23 while averaging 25:28 for a team that's vying for the President's Trophy (team with most points) and has a goal differential of plus-68. Any of the three would be a good choice.
Job security for Yzerman
Steve Yzerman signed a four-year extension with the Lightning, giving him more time to continue what has been an impressive turnaround. Yzerman, the team's vice president and general manager, had a year left on his previous contract.
Although his job is secure, look for some changes around the league after Sunday's regular-season finale. Most likely to go — Vancouver General Manager Mike Gillis and/or Coach John Tortorella, and Coach Kirk Muller in Carolina. Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford will retire and be replaced by Ron Francis. The Maple Leafs' goaltending mess probably bought another season for Coach Randy Carlyle.
Genetics, anyone? Jake Chelios, son of Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios, signed a tryout contract with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, the St. Louis Blues' farm team. He had been playing for the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. Blake Coffey, the 15-year-old son of Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey, was chosen by Windsor in the fifth round of the Ontario Hockey League draft last weekend. Chosen first overall was Jakob Chychrun, son of former NHL defenseman Jeff Chychrun.
Referee Don Van Massenhoven, an NHL official since 1993, worked his final game on Friday. He officiated in 1,278 regular-season games, 87 playoff games, and the Turin Olympics. A former Ontario provincial policeman, Van Massenhoven always brought an air of authority to the ice.
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