Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tim and Eric's NHL Awards Predictions

Yet another fantastic season of NHL hockey is in the books and now it is time to look back on this season and acknowledge the players who played well all season. Out of all the finalists only one player (Duncan Keith) was able to get his hands on the most coveted award in sports which is Lord Stanley's Cup but that doesn't mean the rest of the nominees wouldn't like to walk away with a trophy for their mantles tonight.

Hart Memorial Trophy Finalists: Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin
Tim's prediction: And the winner is... Ryan Miller
-The reasoning behind why the Hart Trophy is given out is to distinguish the player who is most valuable to their team. And if there was anyone who was more valuable to their team than Miller, than give me some examples. The only reason that Buffalo made it into the playoffs was because of the stellar play from Miller all season long. Miller put the team on his back, winning 41 games in the regular season (best for 4th in the league), and also posting the 2nd best save percentage and goals against average at .929 and 2.22 respectively. Miller was a huge asset to Team USA during the Olympics as well, pushing them to the gold medal game against Canada.

Eric's prediction: At first I was going to Henrik Sedin but I'm going to have to agree with my fellow writer and say Ryan Miller deserves this award more then anyone else. Miller was phenomenal all season long and he proved to be the only person that could keep the Sabres season alive. He was fantastic from start to finish and as an American you cant forget how well he played to get the underdog USA team to the gold medal game against arch-rival Canada.

Vezina Trophy Finalists: Martin Brodeur, Ilya Bryzgalov, Ryan Miller
Tim's prediction: And the winner is... Ryan Miller
-As stated before, Miller was a stud in between the pipes this season and posted some great statistics this season. With a record of 41-18-8, Miller pushed his team to the Northeast Division crown with his heroics in net. Along with his second best save percentage and GAA, he made 1,948 saves (best for 3rd in NHL), and faced the 4th most shots with 2,098.

Eric's prediction: Well if we both went for Miller with the Hart then its a no brainer that we would pick him for the Vezina. Tim threw out all the stats already so theres no need to repost his numbers. Miller played great and net and should be awarded for his efforts.

James Norris Memorial Trophy Finalists: Drew Doughty, Mike Green, Duncan Keith
Tim's prediction: And the winner is... Drew Doughty
- The Norris is awarded to a defensemen who has the best all around ability on the backend. Mike Green is an offensive defenseman in nature only and shouldn't have been nominated this year. Duncan Keith is more of a defensive defenseman and although he put up some great numbers this year, he wasn't as visible offensively as the other two nominated. Doughty gets my nod for this season because it is only his 2nd year in the league and he plays like a 10 year veteran. When rushed, Doughty is calm and cool under pressure and doesn't turn over the puck as much as most defensemen his age would. His ability to use his big frame to punish opponents in the defensive zone and then stickhandle through the entire team is unparalleled. He was so impressive in his second season that when the Olympics came around, Team Canada came calling for him to play big minutes. Doughty improved his numbers from 6 goals and 27 points two seasons ago to 16 goals and 59 points last year, along with going from a -17 in 2008-09 to a plus 20 last year.

Eric's Prediction: This award annoys me, plain and simple. This award is supposed to be awarded to the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position. So with that being said, why is Mike Green nominated for this award? Hes a forward that plays defense, the only other defenseman that is worse at playing defense then Green would be Marc-Andre Bergeron. I think its time to have two defensive awards, one for best offensive defenseman and one for best defensive defenseman. Duncan Keith really stepped it up offensively this year jumping from 44 points last year to 69 this year but again Keith isn't the best defensively. So with the two offensive defenseman out of the way lets move on to Drew Doughty, so much for a sophomore slump. Doughty went from 27 points in his rookie year to 59 points in his sophomore season and not only was he an offensive threat he was a big shutdown defenseman for the Kings and its one of the main reasons they were able to get into the playoffs this year. I'm going with Drew Doughty.

Calder Memorial Trophy Finalists: Matt Duchene, Jimmy Howard, Tyler Myers
Tim's prediction: And the winner is... Jimmy Howard
- No one could have expected such a horrific start to the season as the Detroit Red Wings faced. After starter Chris Osgood crumbled under the pressure early on, Howard was there to pick up the pieces and put together an impressive rookie season. He went from 1 game the year before to 63 this season, posting a 37-15-10 record with 3 shutouts. What was more impressive was his .924SV% and 2.26 GAA, best for 4th and 5th in the league respectively. The rookie helped Detroit secure a playoff position with a surge of wins after the Olympic break that were unmatched.

Eric's prediction: This is a tough award to pick a winner for, all three players were key pieces to their team making the playoffs but I think I'm going with Tyler Myers to win the Calder. Before the season not a lot of people knew who Tyler Myers was or figured that he would be a big piece to their defensive puzzle. He led all Sabres in ice time with almost 24 minutes per game. He was second on the team with an impressive plus-13 rating. Only Jochen Hecht had a better plus/minus rating plus-14. Myers was used in all situations, leading all defenseman in power play ice time and leading the entire team in shorthanded ice time.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy Finalists: Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis
Tim's prediction: And the winner is... Martin St. Louis
- Isn't everyone else sick and tired of Datsyuk winning it every year? There was no contest in this category of which player deserved it the most. St Louis has been a premiere player since the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004 but he falls under the radar because of Vincent Lecavalier and now Steven Stamkos. St Louis posted great numbers on a bad team, ranking in the top ten in assists (5th with 65) and points (6th with 94). On top of that, the gentlemanly St Louis only managed 12 penalty minutes while playing an entire 82 game season. Now that right there is impressive enough. For those younger players out there, St Louis is a good example of a role model to look up to.

Eric's prediction: For a player to play as many minutes as Martin St.Louis and for him to only have six minor penalties is nothing short of amazing. St.Louis has to be one of the most underrated players in the NHL and he deserves this award.

Frank J. Selke Trophy Finalists: Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kesler, Jordan Staal

Tim's prediction: And the winner is... Ryan Kesler
- Known as a pest, Kesler knows how to play both sides of the puck. While posting 25 goals and 75 points, Kesler played against the opposing teams' best forwards and was in charge of shutting them down. His knack for agitating and forcing the other team to take penalties is a testament to Kesler's character. Strong in the faceoff circle, Kesler excels when he's given the chance to go face to face against the strongest opposition possible. His tremendous speed helps out his team plenty on the back check as he can catch whoever has the puck with the blink of an eye.

Eric's prediction: I'm going to have to go with Pavel Datsyuk on this one. He led the league in takeaways this year and he is always in the right place to make good defensive plays. He also has the ability to turn those defensive plays into offensive chances.

Jack Adams Award Finalists: Joe Sacco, Dave Tippett, Barry Trotz
Tim's prediction: And the winner is... Dave Tippett
- The Coyotes were in desperation mode after coach and part owner Wayne Gretzky left the team during the team's training camp. The search for a coach was underway and they were coming up blank. Finally, GM Don Maloney hired former Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett to replace the best player in NHL history. The result? Immediate success. The Coyotes went from a record of 36-39-7 and 14th in the Western Conference the season before to 50-25-7 record and 4th in the West in 2009-10. The fact that everyone counted Phoenix out and predicted them to be bottom feeders this season must have sparked the Desert Dogs to prove them wrong. The impressive Coyotes pushed Detroit to 7 games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals and made names like Bryzgalov, Yandle and Stempniak into household names.

Eric's prediction: So at the beginning of the season how many of you predicted the Coyotes would have over 100 points at the end of the season. Okay, I dont think I see anyone raising their hands so Dave Tippett has to be the choice here. For him to come in only a week before the season to keep the off-ice distractions from dragging this team down they instead rose to the top of the Western Conference and shocked everyone. The real challenge for Tippett is making sure its not a fluke.

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