Tuesday, May 01, 2007


NHL Awards Finalists Feature Two Devils

The NHL has announced the finalists for their annual regular season awards for the 2006-2007 season at their website. Yes, the Stanley Cup is the most important award; but individual awards are certainly worth noting. The article at NHL.com has information about each nominee for each award. Patricia Greuter at 2 Man Advantage is the first Devils blog I saw that immediately jumped at noting that Martin Brodeur and Jay Pandolfo are the two Devils finalists.

Because I can, I'd like to take a crack at predicting who will win each award. Keep in mind, these are regular season awards; the playoffs only factor into two awards: the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) and the Stanley Cup (the most important trophy). Here, from NHL.com, is the complete list of nominees:
CALDER MEMORIAL TROPHY (outstanding rookie): Evgeni Malkin, Penguins; Jordan Staal, Penguins; Paul Stastny, Avalanche.

FRANK J. SELKE TROPHY (outstanding defensive forward): Rod Brind'Amour, Hurricanes; Samuel Pahlsson, Ducks; Jay Pandolfo, Devils.

HART MEMORIAL TROPHY (most valuable player to his team): Martin Brodeur, Devils; Sidney Crosby, Penguins; Roberto Luongo, Canucks.

JACK ADAMS AWARD (outstanding coach): Lindy Ruff, Sabres; Michel Therrien, Penguins; Alain Vigneault, Canucks.

JAMES NORRIS MEMORIAL TROPHY (outstanding defenseman): Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings; Scott Niedermayer, Ducks; Chris Pronger, Ducks.

LADY BYNG MEMORIAL TROPHY (sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct): Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings; Joe Sakic, Avalanche; Martin St. Louis, Lightning.

LESTER B. PEARSON AWARD (most outstanding player as voted by fellow members of the NHLPA): Sidney Crosby, Penguins; Vincent Lecavalier, Lightning; Roberto Luongo, Canucks.

VEZINA TROPHY *** (outstanding goaltender): Martin Brodeur, Devils; Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames; Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers; Roberto Luongo, Canucks.
First, the easy ones: Evgeni Malkin will win the Calder Memorial Trophy by virtue of leading all NHL rookies in points with 33 goals and 52 assists. He's done very well in his first season with Pittsburgh. I'm amazed that there were four finalists for the Vezina, apparently there was a tie for third place among votes. While all four have had spectacular seasons, it should not matter, though. Martin Brodeur had the third best goals against average (2.18 GAA), led the league in shutouts (12), clearly was the MVP of his own team and the reason why they are where they are, and most importantly he set a NHL record for most wins in a season with 48. If the win record alone doesn't get Brodeur the Vezina, it would be a travesty. For the Lady Byng Trophy, while I'm sure Joe Sakic is a favorite to some (and it doesn't hurt he had a 100 points last season) - he had 46 penalty minutes - more than Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis. I think the winner will be Datsyuk by virtue of having fewer penalty minutes among the three. For the James Norris Memorial Trophy, I believe it'll be Nicklas Lidstrom taking this award home: he's the very definition of a dominant defenseman and there is no reason to believe he wasn't just that this season.

Now for the more difficult ones. As much as I am pleased that Jay Pandolfo has gotten consideration for the Frank J. Selke Award, I don't think he'll win it. Rod Brind'Amour is a center who has the second best faceoff winning percentage (59.2%) in the league and plays a ton of minutes (23:19 per game). As is my understanding, I believe the center has more defensive responsibilities than the wing having to play where most of the action is at both ends. Pandolfo and Pahlsson are wingers, so I think Brind'Amour is the favorite and will win partially due to that. It doesn't hurt that Brind'Amour has won it before. All three are certainly worthy of consideration. All three candidates for the Jack Adams Trophy are also worthy of the award. I personally think Michel Therrien will win it (just ahead of Lindy Ruff) for guiding the Pittsburgh Penguins to the playoffs in a very tough Eastern Conference.

Lastly, the two MVP awards. I believe Sidney Crosby will win both the Lester B. Pearson Award and the Hart Memorial Trophy. I can't believe Roberto Luongo is a finalist for both, he's not even the best goaltender in the NHL - much less the most valuable player. I definitely think Martin Brodeur is the Devils' MVP and he has had a Hart-worthy season. However, I also think the Penguins would be completely nowhere without Crosby; maybe more so than the Devils without Brodeur, the Lightning without Lecavalier, and the Canucks with Luongo (they did make the playoffs with Dan Cloutier of all goaltenders in the past). My heart says Brodeur, which is obvious since I am a Devils fan, but my head says it's the NHL's leading scorer (36 G, 84 A) and Pittsburgh's top man: Sidney Crosby.

We'll find out who won what and how wrong I am after the playoffs.

OTHER THINGS: Middletown, New Jersey native and top 2007 draft prospect James van Riemsdyk has a blog going on at NHL.com. Apparently, it's in this new section called NHL Connect. Hopefully, he does well as he finishes his current studies prior to the draft.

Speaking of the NHL, they have announced a deal with Voxant to distribute video clips of highlights, news, and bloopers throughout the Internet via TheNewsRoom. Interesting idea to have a weekly "best of" show just be done over the Internet; as it is, there isn't a show like that on TV for hockey. However, if this takes off, that may not matter. I have my doubts, to be honest, as to whether it will catch on for a number of reasons. But to paraphrase the Great One, you can't score if you don't shoot.

Trendon Lynch feels some of the blame for the 2-0 Game 3 loss should go to Lou Lamoriello. Fair enough, the coach is responsible for motivation, match-ups, and the team strategy. Clearly, the team was not successful in those areas. For a more historical flavor, Trendon finds a video of a rather infamous New Jersey Devils moment. I won't tell you, but it involves a doughnut.

I'd love to see Pando win, just for the job he does to most of the scoring threats in the Atlantic, but I think you're spot on with RBA. He's got all the right numbers to win.
Broduer should get some hardware, he's definitely earned it.
If MArty doesn't win the Viz, then it should go to Kip. Henrik is good but bottoms out once or twice a season- last season it cost NYR the division, this season almost a playoff spot.
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