Posted by: Adventures in Pucking | June 21, 2011

NHL Awards Predictions!

Yay, it’s time for another awards show (honestly, I’m jaded when it comes to those, while my family takes to them like ducks to a pond). But this isn’t one of those “bad fashion review/bad host sketches/music playing off the winners” shows; this is the NHL Awards, which features gorgeous hockey players in sharp suits in Las Vegas. Not only that, but each of the categories gets its own trophy, each with its own history and long list of past winners, instead of the same statuette. For our first awards show, Emma and I have decided to make our picks on who we think will walk away with the hardware.

The NHL Awards are on Versus at 7 p.m. this Wednesday, June 22. Tune in and see if we were right!

Vezina Trophy (for outstanding goaltender)
Nominees: Roberto Luongo (Vancouver), Pekka Rinne (Nashville), Tim Thomas (Boston)

Emma’s Prediction: This is based on the goaltender’s performance in the regular season, not the playoffs. That being said, Thomas had a .938 save percentage in the regulars (a single-season record) and a 2.00 goals-against average. Not that Rinne and Luongo are any less impressive. Rinne had a .930, 2.12 GAA and a career-high 38 wins. Luongo also notched 38 wins and a 2.11 GAA. However, I still feel this is going to go to Thomas. Allow me to divert for a moment and grumble that a dark-horse nomination for Ondrej Pavelec (Atlanta) would have been amazing. The man came back from passing out on the ice during the season opener in October to being one of the league’s Three Stars of the Week in November. He performed really well for the rest of the season and got himself a career high in shutouts (four) on a team that was only itself shut out once in the entire season. Let’s say he’d been nominated instead of Rinne. I’d still make the same prediction, probably, but point out that this rise-from-adversity storyline is the kind of stuff sports loves and appreciate the nod.

Krista’s Prediction: I could use this as a great way to grumble myself about how Corey Crawford was passed over for his performance this season, but I need to focus on this crop of nominees. All three are impressive to me based on their performances in the playoffs, but I’m agreeing with Emma and choosing Thomas. I’ve never seen a man play with the intensity that he has, and he proves that this isn’t exclusively a young man’s game (he’s 37, a year older than me).

 

Norris Memorial Trophy (for outstanding defenseman)
Nominees: Zdeno Chara (Boston), Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit), Shea Weber (Nashville)

Emma’s Prediction: Chara’s been nominated three times in the last four seasons and won two years ago. He has a +33 rating, leading the league. Lidstrom has won this award six times, and been nominated for it 11 times, in the past 13 seasons. He got a hatty this year and 62 points in 82 games…all at the age of 41! Weber is the newbie here, setting career highs for games played (82), assists (32) and shots (254). However, I think the Jack Adams is probably going to Nashville (see below). So this is a toughie. They might choose to award Chara for his rating or Lidstrom for his longevity. 41 is a big milestone, so I’m going with Lidstrom.

Krista’s Prediction: I’m really torn between Chara and Lidstrom here. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want Chara to wind simply because of the playoffs or Lidstrom for the same reason I chose Tim Thomas for the Vezina. I think Weber has a lot of time to garner more of these nominations, so I’m going with Lidstrom. And as of today, we’ll get to see him work his defensive magic at least one more year!

 

Hart Memorial Trophy (for the player most valuable to his team)
Nominees: Corey Perry (Anaheim), Daniel Sedin (Vancouver), Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay)

Emma’s Prediction: This is the first time in more than half a century that three wingers have been nominated for this award! And all three of these guys are just as impressive as they get. “Scorey” Perry led the league with 50 goals, including three hat tricks, and has 98 points. Sedin has 41 goals and 63 assists, so he has the league’s best of 104 points. St. Louis has the league’s second best of 99 points and more than 30 goals. If they choose to go on points, Sedin will take this, but if they go on goals scored, Perry will. I’m saying Perry.

Krista’s prediction: I also think Sedin will win on points alone, but my gut says St. Louis. He and Vincent Lecavalier have demonstrated their leadership this season, and he was a big reason the Bolts made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Plus, that’s a lot of power on the ice in a little package.

 

Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player as voted by the NHLPA)
Nominees: Corey Perry (Anaheim), Daniel Sedin (Vancouver), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay)

Emma’s Prediction: The only differences between the Hart and Lindsay are that different Lightning players are nominated and that journalists vote on the winner here. Hooray journalists! I feel like this one will follow the Hart winner, although we journos have a tendency to “go rogue,” as it were, and do our own thing. It’s the first nomination for all three guys. I’ll throw out a dark-horse prediction for Stamkos.

Krista’s Prediction: I’m also going to pick Stamkos. It’s the same reasoning as for Marty St. Louis – he’s shown his value to the team. And if a man can take a puck to the face and keep playing despite a bloody nose, that tells you that he’s more concerned with the team as a whole over his individual play.

 

Calder Memorial Trophy (for outstanding rookie)
Nominees: Logan Couture (San Jose), Michael Grabner (NY Islanders), Jeff Skinner (Carolina)

Emma’s Prediction: Couture set a franchise rookie record for the Sharks with 32 goals and has scored the most game-winners on the road by a rookie, so that’s not bad at all. I feel like Skinner’s going to win because he’s notched some big achievements so far (63 points, All-Star Game player) and his wholesome appearance endears him to a potentially untapped demographic of fans (teenage girls! Who have been asked to choose his suit for the awards!), but I’d greatly prefer Grabner. He’s talented (34 goals in 76 games, the most by a first-year since Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in ’05-’06), he plays for a chronically underappreciated team and he’s the fastest skater in the league.

Krista’s Prediction: Yes, yes, Jeff Skinner, blah blah blah. Can we talk about how I’m picking Grabner? The league’s fastest skater. That right there should tell you that this young man has immense talent. And if the list of past Calder winners (including Mario Lemieux, Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane) is any indication, I see a very bright future for him.

 

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (for sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and high standard of playing ability)
Nominees: Loui Eriksson (Dallas), Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit), Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay)

Emma’s Prediction: First of all, the history of this trophy is pretty neat and I like that it’s named for a female hockey fan. Heck yeah! It’s good to see a sport rewarding ‘gentlemanly conduct’ when we so often hear about rather ungentlemanly things happening regarding players of other sports (Brett Favre, anyone?). Lidstrom’s had only 10 minor penalties in 82 games and contributed the second-most points among defensemen. Eriksson, the newbie, has more power-play goals (10) than penalties in minutes (8) this season. St. Louis might take this for having only 12 penalty minutes in the season in addition to taking Steven Stamkos under his wing; that’s very gentlemanly. I say St. Louis takes it for the protégé thing.

Krista’s Prediction: I’m also taking St. Louis. As I stated earlier, he and Lecavalier have really shown their ability to rally the team. Add to this the fact that he’s mentoring Stamkos, and you have a winner in my mind.

 

Frank J. Selke Trophy (for the forward who displays the best defensive aspects of the game)
Nominees: Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit), Ryan Kesler (Vancouver), Jonathan Toews (Chicago)

Emma’s Prediction: Datsyuk could win this for the fourth consecutive year. Toews and Kesler both had pretty impressive regular seasons and Kesler, nominated last year, missed winning this trophy pretty much by a hair. This one’s a little more difficult for me to quite clearly predict, although since Datsyuk had a bad injury and came back to get a +11 rating, I have a feeling they’re going to give Datsyuk his fourth Selke.

Krista’s Prediction: I’m very, very tempted to choose my captain on loyalty alone, but I must be objective. Toews has always been a more defensive guy on the ice (except for the fighting, he doesn’t engage much), so it makes sense that he was nominated. Kelser’s also good at defending when it’s needed, but in the end, I think Datsyuk will win again.

 

Jack Adams Award (for outstanding head coach)
Nominees: Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh), Barry Trotz (Nashville), Alain Vigneault (Vancouver)

Emma’s Prediction: Bylsma had to steer a boat full of injured folks, including the superstars Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, plus his appearance on HBO’s 24/7 Penguins-Capitals helped fans outside of Pittsburgh learn about his personal life and demeanor. Vigneault got his ship to the first President’s Trophy in Vancouver’s 40-year history. There’s some notable Nashville love in these nominations and I think they deserve some recognition for getting to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Who better to reward for that accomplishment than Coach Trotz?

Krista’s Prediction: Trotz is the sentimental fave to me, but I have to go with Bylsma, aka Disco Dan, on this one. He went through hell with Crosby being out since the beginning of January, Malkin’s injury AND the fallout from Matt Cooke’s suspension for his blatantly dirty hit on Ryan McDonagh back in March, which got Cooke suspended through the first round of the playoffs. Besides, I think Vigneault is a jerk – during the playoffs, he was asked if he would answer a question in French; he said he would if the question was asked in French. When it was asked in French, he refused to answer the question at all because he felt the grammar of the question was juvenile. What even.

 

GM of the Year Award (exactly what it says on the tin)

Nominees: Mike Gillis (Vancouver), Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay), David Poile (Nashville)

Emma’s Prediction: We know already the song of Vancouver: Presidents’ Trophy, la, la, la. Poile has been doing well for Nashville—and if they don’t win the Jack Adams, I’d say they should get this one because, again, second round. Much as I dislike the Lightning personally, this one is probably going to Yzerman because he’s made some good hiring decisions, his team spent much of the season atop the Southeast Division and they went to the playoffs for the first time in four years, where they proceeded to take down the Penguins, sweep the Capitals and force the Bruins to a game 7.

Krista’s Prediction: I’d like for Poile to win this because of the way the team has come into its own. But Yzerman also deserves it for the same reason. It’s a real toss up for me, but I’ll go with Yzerman.

 

Mark Messier Leadership Award

Nominees: Zdeno Chara (Boston), Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit), Shane Doan (Phoenix)

Emma’s Prediction: The only guy who gets the ultimate say in the winner here is Messier, although he calls for suggestions and such. He’s got his work cut out for him; all three of these guys are impressive. However, I love an underdog, and for a long while it was Phoenix that was weathering the relocation talk along with Atlanta, so I’d like to see Doan get this one.

Krista’s Prediction: I wanna say that Messier will choose Chara, but he may just pick Lidstrom like I am. He’s spent his entire career with the Red Wings, and now he’ll spend another year – his 20th – with them. He’s seen players come and go, and he’s led them to four Stanley Cup wins. If that’s not leadership, I don’t know what is.

 

Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy (for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey)
Nominees: Ray Emery (Anaheim), Daymond Langkow (Calgary), Ian Laperriere (Philadelphia)

Emma’s Prediction: All three of these men are really immensely worthy of this award. Langkow got hit by a slap shot that at one point was said to be career-ending, but came back about a year later to play in the Flames’ last four games of the ’10-’11 season. Laperriere incurred facial injuries and a brain contusion last year, came back to help the Flyers reach the 2010 Cup final, has nerve damage to his eye and hasn’t played this season, but is still a constant presence in Philly. Emery needed a bone graft to help with hip issues from avascular necrosis. (Dr. Wikipedia tells me avascular necrosis involves the death of bone tissue and bone collapse as a result. It often means joint replacements are necessary.) Did you know Emery is missing 13 centimeters of bone from his leg? And that he was able to get into the butterfly position in November after being diagnosed in March? And that when Jonas Hiller had some vertigo issues, Emery put on the pads and helped Anaheim get to and go through the playoffs this year?

I think Emery or Laperriere will take this one, though, and I can’t decide. Maybe Emery.

Krista’s Prediction: I’m going with Emery, who’s enduring something that could not only threaten his career in hockey but could cost him his mobility in general. But his focus is the team; he comes second. That’s dedication to hockey.

 

NHL Foundation Award (for players who have applied “the core values of hockey—commitment, perseverance and teamwork—to enrich the lives of people in his community”)

Nominees: Dustin Brown (LA), Mike Green (Washington), Daniel and Henrik Sedin (Vancouver)

Emma’s Prediction: Brown, the youngest captain in Kings history, has been nominated for the third time in a row. He had an initiative with KaBOOM!, which builds playgrounds (and was seen on a Parks and Recreation episode), where he donated $50 personally every time he delivered a hit during the season. This led to a playground in Carson, Calif. He works with many other children’s focused charities too. Green focuses on a lot of children’s charities (including KaBOOM!), especially So Kids Can, which also raises money based on his statistics for things like funding pediatric prosthetic limbs (these often go unfunded/uncovered by health care plans). The Sedins helped fund a pediatric ICU at a Vancouver-area hospital with a $1.5 million gift. The man (or men, potentially) who win this award gets $25,000. How the heck am I supposed to pick this one?! All four of these guys do wonderful, worthy things for their community. The Sedins wanted their gift to be private, but publicized it when the hospital hoped it would spread awareness. I think I’ll give it to them.

Krista’s Prediction: As much as I loathe the Canucks, I have to stick salute the Sedins for their donation. But in the end, I think Brown will take it for his work with KaBOOM! in building playgrounds. I like the concept of donating money based on performance; it makes the player want to work harder and makes him better on and off the ice.

 

So who do you pick? Watch the awards to see who takes home the goods, and good luck to the nominees


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