Montreal’s Carey Price is among NHL standouts worthy of awards
The regular season will end Saturday, and with it ends the voting period for most major awards. With that in mind, in the final regular-season weekly column, a look at who should win the hardware:
Hart Trophy (MVP)
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens. Honorable mentions: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals; Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks; John Tavares, New York Islanders.
The low-scoring Canadiens figured to struggle to reach the playoffs, but Price has led them to the top of the Atlantic Division with numbers spectacular enough to overcome traditional bias against choosing a goalie as MVP. Ovechkin is about to win his third straight goal-scoring title and has a league-high 11 game-winners among his 52. Getzlaf has been a leader on the ice and in the locker room for the West-leading Ducks. Tavares (80 points) ranks among the league’s top scorers and personifies the resurgent Islanders.
Norris (best defenseman)
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators. Honorable mentions: Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames; Drew Doughty, Kings; Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators; P.K. Subban, Montreal.
Weber and defense partner Roman Josi have excelled and could split votes. Giordano might have won if a biceps injury hadn’t ended his season after 61 games. Doughty led the NHL in time on ice most of the season, carrying a huge burden during Slava Voynov’s ongoing suspension and while other defensemen were injured. Karlsson’s offense (21 goals, 65 points) is vital, but all-around play deserves more weight than scoring. Subban has improved defensively and is electrifying.
Vezina (best goaltender)
Price. Honorable mentions: Pekka Rinne, Nashville; Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild.
It’s all about Price, who leads the NHL with 42 wins, a 1.93 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, and shares the shutout lead with nine. The Predators missed the playoffs when Rinne was injured last season. With him healthy and sharp (41 wins, 2.15, .924), they’re competing for the No. 1 West seed. Dubnyk, acquired from Arizona in January for a third-round draft pick, saved the Wild’s season. He has made 37 consecutive starts and has compiled astonishing numbers (35 wins, 2.06, .929, six shutouts).
Selke (best defensive forward)
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins. Honorable mention: Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks.
Always a tough one. Two-time winner Bergeron is only plus-three defensively but leads the NHL in total faceoffs (1,866) and faceoff percentage (59.9%), including winning 62% of home faceoffs. Toews has won 56.5% of his faceoffs and is plus-32.
Calder (rookie of the year)
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary. Honorable mentions: Filip Forsberg, Nashville; Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers.
Almost a tossup. Gaudreau (22 goals, 61 points) is a dynamic winger whose energy has sparked the Flames’ unlikely playoff push. Forsberg (24 goals, 61 points) is sound fundamentally. Defenseman Ekblad jumped in at 18 years old to average nearly 22 minutes per game with great poise.
Lady Byng (gentlemanly play)
Jiri Hudler, Calgary. Honorable mentions: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings; Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks.
Hudler, the veteran on a line with kids Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, ranks among the top 10 scorers with 29 goals and 72 points and only 14 penalty minutes. Datsyuk, a four-time Lady Byng winner, has eight penalty minutes. Sedin takes a pounding and has 18 penalty minutes to go with 71 points.
Jack Adams (coach of the year)
Peter Laviolette, Nashville. Honorable mentions: Alain Vigneault, New York Rangers; Bob Hartley, Calgary, Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Laviolette opened things up offensively for the Predators, who missed the playoffs the last two seasons. He also has more scoring depth than predecessor Barry Trotz but uses it well. Vigneault’s team didn’t falter while goalie Henrik Lundqvist recovered from a vascular injury and is vying for the Presidents’ Trophy. Hartley’s chances will improve if the Flames squeeze into the playoffs, but he has done a masterful job with a team that seemed destined to be an also-ran. Cooper’s Lightning is the only team that didn’t have a three-game losing streak this season.
•The Hockey Hall of Fame, bombarded with criticism after former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was added to its board of directors, issued a clarification Monday on his selection. Ford, who admitted to drinking and smoking crack cocaine while in office, was elected by the city of Toronto, which gets to choose three board members in exchange for the city’s “progressive assistance and support” in establishing the Hall and its resource center. Ford, now a city councilman, won’t vote for Hall of Fame members, but his selection still is odd.
•The Tampa Bay Lightning restricted credit-card sales of single-game playoff tickets to Florida residents in order to keep fans of opposing teams from filling the arena. “We don’t feel the need to apologize for doing our best to create a home atmosphere for our season ticket members and our team,” spokesman Bill Wickett told the Tampa Tribune. The Nashville Predators, often overrun by Blackhawks fans, placed similar conditions on their playoff ticket sales.
•Happy retirement to Paul Devorski, who on Sunday officiated the final game of his 26-year career. He was assertive, one of the last distinctive referees.
•Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, who underwent surgery on a broken collarbone on Feb. 25, resumed practicing and participated in a morning skate last week while wearing a no-contact jersey. He’s about halfway through his projected 12-week recovery, but the Blackhawks aren’t saying whether he might return sooner.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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