Posts Tagged ‘Hart Trophy’

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(Photo: AP)

If you pay attention to most hockey media, you’re hearing names like Jonathan Toews and Henrik Lundqvist as mid season frontrunners for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s MVP. By definition, the Hart Trophy is to be awarded to “the player adjudged most valuable to his team”. While a strong argument could be made for the aforementioned Toews and Lundqvist, I can think of one guy who eclipses both in value to their team. Just one problem: Most hockey writers are in bed before his team plays their home games.

In my mind, it’d be difficult to say there’s anybody more valuable to their team than Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. At press time, the Kings sit just two points out of first place in their division (and 3rd overall in the West). Quick has posted 20 of the teams 23 wins, and sits in the top 5 in the NHL in goals against average (1.95), save percentage (.934), wins (20) and leads the entire league in shutouts with 6 – 3 of those coming consecutively back in October. And he’s done it all behind the lowest scoring team in the entire league.

Quick has given up 2 goals or less in 24 of his 39 starts. He hasn’t allowed more than 4 goals in a single game even once this season. He has 12 wins in games where the Kings have scored two goals or fewer. No goalie in the league is under more pressure to perform on a nightly basis.

He’s one of the league’s absolute best goalies, and at this point, probably the frontrunner to start in goal for the US at the 2014 Winter Olympics (provided NHL players are allowed to play).

It’s certainly possible, given their talent laden roster, that LA will increase their scoring before the season ends. Dean Lombardi has built a stable of young defenders that will carry high value on the trade market, and he will likely deal for a sniper on or before the trade deadline. That said, if the Kings meager offensive output continues and the team wins their division (highly possible if not likely), I don’t think that any other player in the league can be said to have been as valuable to his team.

Let’s just hope some of the hockey media decide to stay up and watch.

JS

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After the regular season, we took it upon ourselves to vote for five major NHL awards (Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Adams).  With the awards show tomorrow night, let’s take a quick look back on how we did voting wise and who the frontrunner for those awards are.

Hart Memorial Trophy
This year, the three finalists are: Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis. Our voting had Perry, Sedin and Tim Thomas. With no disrespect to St. Louis, this is a two horse race. Corey Perry had 50 goals and dominated down the stretch. Sedin scored a career-high 41 goals, and 104 points, winning the Art Ross. Both guys are deserving but there can only be one winner. This season Perry’s been the most valuable to his team and should pick up the Hart. However, Sedin should win the Ted Lindsay (Most Outstanding Player) award.

Vezina Trophy
The Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, Predators’ Pekka Rinne and Bruins’ Tim Thomas are the finalists for the Vezina trophy. All three made were our finalists also. Thomas should dominate the voting and easily pick up the hardware this year, which would be his second Vezina (2009).

James Norris Trophy
Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber are the 2010-11 finalists. Our voting was close, with those three defenseman along with Lubomir Visnovsky finishing as our top vote getters. (Yes, I know that is four, but we had a 3-way tie for 2nd). Even though he’s not as well known as his co-finalists, Weber had a fantastic season and should win his first NHL trophy.

Calder Memorial Trophy
This year, the Sharks’ Logan Couture, Islanders’ Michael Grabner and Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner are the NHL’s finalists. Once again, our top 3 voted finalists match the NHL’s. All three topped 30 goals and 50 points. Couture and Skinner will likely go 1-2 (in some order) but Couture is the pick here.

Jack Adams Award
The NHL’s finalist for the Adams Award are: Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, Nashville’s Barry Trotz and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault. Unfortunately, of those three only Bylsma made our finalists. The other two were Tampa’s Guy Boucher and New Jersey’s Jacques Lemaire. The frontrunner should be Bylsma, who almost won the Atlantic Division, despite his two best players (Crosby and Malkin) being injured.

Our voting produced 12 of the 15 NHL’s finalists. So who will win some of the other awards?

Ryan Kesler seems like the heavy favorite to unseat 3-time defending winner Pavel Datsyuk (a co-finalist) for the Selke Trophy. Datsyuk isn’t even going to Las Vegas for the awards show, and could be a sign of a new winner. The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews is the other candidate.

The Lady Byng was another Datsyuk specialty, winning four times since the lockout. However, he was in a fight this season which prompted the internet to joke that he “blew his Byng chances.” Last year’s winner Martin St. Louis is in the running once again, along with Lidstrom and Dallas’ Loui Eriksson. St. Louis will probably win the award again this year.

The Masterton trophy is given to a player that shows perseverance and this year’s field has gone through a lot. Ray Emery (degenerative hip condition), Daymond Langkow (neck injury) and Ian Laperriere (brain injury) all are deserving, but this year’s winner has to be Emery. Thought to possibly have trouble walking in the future (let alone playing hockey), Emery rehabbed most of this season, and signed with the Ducks in February, playing in 16 games (including playoffs) for Anaheim.

One other award up for grabs is the Messier Leadership award. Chara, Lidstrom and Phoenix’s Shane Doan are this year’s finalists. The Coyotes battled relocation rumors all season and still managed to finish fifth. Doan’s been Phoenix’s captain since 2003. He was also Canada’s captain in the 2007 World Championships. He should be recognized for his leadership.

As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for. At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins by Joey

Throughout October and November, Marc-Andre Fleury was Public Enemy Number 1 to the local fans and a butt to jokes at the water cooler around NHL fans at work. Then one crisp November evening, Fleury won a game, it was a shutout, it was at home and he had the fans backing him once again. Since that point Fleury was himself again. But what makes him Hart worthy is his play after the Penguins lost Crosby and Malkin after the turn of the New Year. While statistically, Fleury may not be a standout choice, this award is for the player deemed most indispensible to his team. As solid of a defensive pairing as the free agent tandem of Zybnek Michalek and Paul Martin were in junction with the coaching of Dan Bylsma to keep the Penguins ship pointed in the right direction, this season collapses to potentially out of the playoffs without Marc-Andre Fleury’s play. It’s only proper to go beyond numbers, and recognize the true MVP this season.

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks by Realdeal

Perry emerged in 2010-11 as a superstar.  The Ducks forward was the only NHLer to notch 50 goals this season, securing the Rocket Richard trophy for most goals.  But his play down the stretch where he carried the Ducks from 11th to 4th propelled him into the Hart debate.  Perry scored 19 goals in his final 14 games, helping his team to a 10-4 record during that time.  He tied for first in game winning goals with 11, and tied for first with 18 special teams goals (14 PPG, 4 SHG; tied for 5th in both individual categories).  Despite his borderline play (104 PIM), Perry is the choice this year.

Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks by Gabbi

The real league MVP is one half of the league’s most dynamic duo; Daniel Sedin of Sedin Twins & Co. This season, Daniel lead the league in points (104), was fourth in goals, and third in assists (his brother Henrik had the most assists). His 18 power play goals were also tops in the league, and his game winners third most. The only thing Sedin was not tops in the league of was penalty minutes and shooting percentage. All in all, the top five man should be number one this year in the Hart Trophy voting.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks by Cujo

When you vote for Hart, consider voting for Jonathan Toews, the other guys are all impressive, but they do not come close to what Toews has done for Chicago. The Blackhawks captain led his team in points (2nd in goals, assists, powerplay goals, +/-, and shots on goal), and also led the team in game winning goals. In the regular season when Chicago struggled, Toews kept going strong, when he wasn’t scoring, he was setting up goals. Especially in the month of February during a important playoff point race, he scored 3 game winning goals against conference foes Minnesota, St.Louis, and Columbus.

Final Voting (more…)