Thursday, June 18, 2009
Bruins Trio Looking For Some Hardware
Will the Bruins trio bring home hardware?

"Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart
Overture, curtains, lights
This is it, we'll hit the heights
And oh what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it!"
(aaaaaaaaaaaaaand JAZZ HANDS!)

But seriously, tonight is the NHL Awards in Las Vegas and the Bruins are looking to pull off the trifecta of awards with Zdeno Chara winning the Norris Trophy, Tim Thomas taking home the Vezina Trophy and Claude Julien walking away with Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year for all you non-hockey nuts).

The Vezina Trophy

I made my prediction about Thomas' chances to win the Vezina Trophy and I'm sticking to my guns with Thomas walking home with the award. Thomas led the league in the two most important categories when it comes to a goalie, Goals Against Average (GAA) and Save Percentage (S%).

Pezell's prediction: Tim Thomas
Patrick's prediction: Tim Thomas

So lets talk about the Jack Adams Award.

The Jack Adams Award

The Jack Adams Award is awarded annually to the National Hockey League coach "adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success." This year's finalists are Claude Julien from the Boston Bruins, Andy Murray from the St. Louis Blues and Todd McLellan from the San Jose Sharks.

Honestly, a pretty tough group to choose from. McLellan led the Sharks to the President's Trophy (given to the team with the most points at the end of the season). Julien led a Bruins team to the top seed in the East while Murray led the Blues to the playoffs, a feat that hasn't been done since 2004.

What makes the Blues story so compelling is that this franchise has been at the bottom of the barrel and a virtual laughing stock since 2004. Hell, in the 2008-2009 season, the Blues spent the first half looking up at everybody in the Western Conference. By the trading deadline, goaltender Chris Mason seemed to hunker down and the Blues eventually clinched the 6th seed in the West.

Murray instilled a hard-nosed game of hockey that the St. Louis players and fans really seem to embrace.

Claude Julien also did something no one believed he could; take the Bruins to the top seed in the East. Many "experts" had Boston in the 6-8 seed range, some even had them missing the playoffs. Julien was able to take a healthy mix of veterans and young players and teach them what Bruins hockey is all about.

Under Dave Lewis, the Bruins lacked two important aspects of hockey: goal scoring and toughness. Julien addressed both issues during his first year (which was last season) and this year seemed to expand on the foundation he built. Julien's moniker of hard-hitting, disciplined hockey led Boston to the top seed in the East and the second best record in the NHL behind San Jose.

Lastly is Todd McLellan, who I doesn't really have a shot at this, and here is why. Look at the body of work that Murray, and to a lesser extent, Julien had to work with. Both St. Louis and Boston don't have the talent that San Jose had coming into the season. Many "experts" picked San Jose to win the Stanley Cup. With Nabakov and Joe Thornton has your superstars, you SHOULD be close to the top in the Western Conference.

Pezell's prediction: Andy Murray

Patrick's prediction: Claude Julien

The Norris Trophy

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League's top "defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position".

Yes, James Norris, not Chuck Norris...

Chuck Norris is so frightening that the puck just throws itself into the net so it won't get hit with his slapshot.

But seriously, back to the Norris Trophy. This year's finalists are Zdeno Chara from the Boston Bruins, Mike Green from the Washington Capital and Mr. Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom.

Lidstrom is looking for his 7th Norris Trophy, which would put him 2nd all time behind Bobby Orr (8) and tied with Doug Harvey (7, [6 w/ Montreal, 1 w/ NY Rangers]) and the most among active players. It is my belief that Lidstrom will actually finish third in the voting this year despite having some pretty impressive offensive numbers. Lidstrom was third amongst defensemen in scoring with 16 goals and 43 assists (59 points), but offense isn't the only thing the voters (should) look at. Lidstrom backed a pretty good defensive unit in Detroit, evident by their Stanley Cup run this (and previous seasons).

Mike Green is also making a case for himself as he led all defensemen in scoring with 31 goals and 42 assists (73 points). Clearly Green was one of the reasons why Washington was near the tops of the East for the entire season, but many felt his defensive skills were lacking.

Lastly is Zdeno Chara. I've been lucky enough to watch Chara for 82+ games this year and clearly his defensive presence made this team what it is today. Not only was Chara huge on the defensive end, but he also scored timely goals with that monster 105 m.p.h slapshot.

Pezell's predictions: Zdeno Chara
Patrick's predictions: Zdeno Chara

So there you have it! Unfortunately I have 2 out of 3 Bruins taking home hardware while Patrick has a sweep.

Leave your thoughts and comments on who will walk home with hardware at tonight's NHL Awards.
Blogger Patrick said...
sweeeeeeeeeep. yeah i'm no homer, i just think it's a realistic chance to get all three

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