The NHL reached the three-quarter mark of its season this past weekend. Now, with the NHL Trade Deadline in the rear-view mirror, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines -- and award winners -- that have developed across the first 900-plus games of the 1,230-game regular season.
The last time John Tortorella won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best coach, he had just led the Tampa Bay Lightning to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history after finishing the regular season as the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
It was his fourth season behind the bench in Tampa.
Now in his fourth season as coach of the New York Rangers, Tortorella finds himself in familiar territory -- atop the Eastern Conference standings.
2011-12 NHL TROPHY TRACKER
- HART TROPHY: Malkin establishing healthy lead
- VEZINA TROPHY: 'King' Henrik should get crown
- NORRIS TROPHY: Could Lidstrom win No. 8?
- SELKE TROPHY: Bergeron remains top candidate
- LADY BYNG TROPHY: Moulson emerges as favorite
- CALDER TROPHY: Henrique ascends to the top
- GM OF THE YEAR: Coyotes' Maloney leading the list
The temperamental coach probably would scoff at the notion of a potential Jack Adams Award at this stage of the season, but there's no reason to believe it couldn't happen. It's one reason why, at the three-quarter mark of the 2011-12 season, Tortorella is NHL.com's favorite to become the first-ever Rangers coach to win the award.
John Tortorella, New York Rangers -- Tortorella has been a steadying influence on and off the ice for the team. It made no difference that he lost defenseman Marc Staal for the first half of the season or had his team on an elongated road trip for three weeks at the start of the season due to the renovation of Madison Square Garden. Instead of making excuses, Tortorella challenged his team and it has paid dividends. Not only did the Rangers enter the week the third-best team in the League, and they rank second in goals-against average (1.98) and sixth in penalty-killing, with an 86.5-percent efficiency.
Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues -- Since taking over in November, Hitchcock has put together a 31-10-7 record in his first 48 games behind the bench and lift his team into fourth place in the Western Conference standings to start the week. The Blues currently sport a League-low 1.92 goals-against average while allowing the fewest shots per game (26.1) in the League.
Paul MacLean, Ottawa Senators -- The 53-year-old former assistant to Mike Babcock with the Detroit Red Wings, chosen from a list of seven candidates, has instilled a winning formula through steady communication and a change in attitude in the locker room. MacLean, who admits communication with his players is important in empowering them, has the Senators in seventh place in the East to start the week, and the fact players are buying into his philosophy has led to a jump in the standings. There's no reason to think that will change anytime soon, as the Senators seek their second postseason appearance in four seasons.