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Trophy Tracker

Predators' Rinne stating case for Vezina Trophy

Saturday, 11.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Nashville Predators didn't qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. A main reason why was because their No. 1 goaltender, Pekka Rinne, was limited to 24 games because of a hip injury.

These days, Rinne is healthy. And it's no coincidence the Predators are rolling.

Rinne's performance to date (14-3-1, 1.97 goals-against average, .927 save percentage) has the Predators vying for first place in the Central Division. The problems he experienced when he first tried to come back from hip surgery are behind him.

"Like I said, I had a good summer," Rinne told reporters last week. "I fixed a few things that I usually do in the summer. I increased my training a lot. I wanted to be in the best shape that I could possibly be. That has helped a lot.

"Obviously being back on the ice and working on the ice, you can translate that on to the ice what you did off the ice. I was never scared [coming back], but obviously it's something that it's a little bit different struggling with something like that for the first time in your life or career. It was a little bit different, but I never once thought that, 'this is it.' Obviously this year I wanted to get off to a good start, but other than that I wasn't really scared about it."

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Predators' Laviolette frontrunner for Jack Adams

Friday, 11.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

After failing to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in consecutive seasons, the Nashville Predators decided it was time for a new voice behind the bench.

Enter Peter Laviolette, whose track record includes winning the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and three 40-win seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. Known as an offensive-minded coach, Laviolette's teams have finished in the top 10 in goals in six of his eight full seasons as a coach and never lower than 13th.

In his first season in Carolina, Laviolette was runner-up in voting for the Jack Adams Award and it was the closest vote in award history. With the Predators at 15-5-2 and in first place in the Central Division, he is the early frontrunner to take home the award this season as the NHL's top coach.

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Bruins' Bergeron off to start deserving of Selke

Thursday, 11.27.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

As Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter noted last season, teams that spend a lot of time playing in their own zone in this era of the NHL say they're playing defense but are typically just getting scored or on relying their goaltender to bail them out.

The best defensive players in the NHL are the ones who avoid having to play it a lot. There is a desire to possess the puck, and a player's ability to keep the puck and win it back have become incredibly valuable commodities.

Forwards, particularly centers, who are strong in all areas of the ice help drive the offense and support the defense. Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins has earned a reputation for being one of the best in the sport at this, and he is the favorite to win the Selke Trophy at the three-quarter pole of the 2014-15 season.

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Predators' Forsberg emerges as early Calder favorite

Wednesday, 11.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Two seasons ago Filip Forsberg was impressing NHL scouts with regularity in his native Sweden.

At the time, he was regarded as the top European skater eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft because he had a nose for the net, better-than-average speed and played an effective two-way game. Goran Stubb, the NHL Director of European Scouting, compared him to Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry because in addition to sacrificing himself to make the big play, he had a knack for scoring the big goal.

"He started playing with men at an early age and when you do that it forces you to mature earlier and forces you to start playing the professional game right away," Colorado Avalanche captain and fellow Swede Gabriel Landeskog said. "I think it's probably helped him in the transition coming over here and having played so many years of professional hockey back home. I played with him on a few teams back home and he's a skilled player, very talented."

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Puck possession has Wild's Suter leading Norris race

Tuesday, 11.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Ryan Suter has led the NHL in time on ice per game for each of the past two seasons.

Logging a lot of ice time, and his reputation from having a successful tenure with the Nashville Predators, helped make Suter a candidate for the Norris Trophy and a consistent subject in "who are the best defensemen in the NHL?" discussions in his first two years with the Minnesota Wild.

Suter's statistics, both "advanced" and "traditional," beyond the time on ice, left questions about whether or not he was really having the impact of an elite defenseman. His puck possession stats were mediocre, especially last season when Wild coach Mike Yeo didn't give him a high percentage of defensive zone starts.

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Penguins' Crosby early leader in Hart Trophy race

Monday, 11.24.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been a picture of stability since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009.

But their lack of success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since that time led to an offseason of drastic change.

General manager Ray Shero, coach Dan Bylsma and assistant coach Tony Granato were let go, while Bylsma's other assistant, Jacques Martin, was reassigned as senior advisor of hockey operations. Jim Rutherford was brought in as general manager and Mike Johnston as coach, defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik were allowed to leave as free agents, and James Neal was traded to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. In all, eight players who took part in at least 41 games last season were not on the opening night roster this season.

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Bruins' Bergeron the pick to win Selke again

Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The NHL used to be defined by dynasties, at the team level and in some award categories.

The League's recent history has shifted toward parity. No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champion since 1998, and no player has successfully defended a major individual trophy (Hart, Vezina, Norris, Adams and Selke) since Pavel Datsyuk won the Frank J. Selke Trophy for a third straight year in 2010.

Patrice Bergeron has won the Selke twice in the past three years, and he is NHL.com's preseason favorite to earn the honor in 2014-15. Should he do so, Bergeron would become the fifth player in League history to win the Selke three times, joining Bob Gainey (four times), Guy Carbonneau, Jere Lehtinen and Datsyuk.

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Bruins' Rask could win second straight Vezina

Tuesday, 10.07.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask obviously was thrilled when he walked up to the podium in Las Vegas in June to accept the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the top player at his position.

The 27-year-old won 36 games and led the Bruins to the Presidents' Trophy, one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks atop the League standings. Rask played a career-high 58 games and had a 2.04 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and a League-best seven shutouts.

"It's a team game and you can't really win the trophy by yourself," Rask said. "By saying that, you really don't rob the whole season. You play good, but I don't consider myself that I robbed a lot of games. I like to give our team a chance to win but still a big part of it goes to the team, that's for sure."

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Lightning's Cooper favorite for Jack Adams Award

Monday, 10.06.2014 / 11:19 AM / Trophy Tracker

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

The target on the back of the Tampa Bay Lightning grew larger once they evolved from a team projected to rebuild to one expected to contend.

And not just for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs either. The Lightning are a chic pick to go deep in the postseason; The Hockey News has them pegged for the Stanley Cup Final. Expectations are heightened in Tampa Bay and that's fine with coach Jon Cooper, a finalist last season for the Jack Adams Award and NHL.com's favorite to win it in 2014-15.

"The first year that I've been a part of a team has always been a big transition year, and last year was no different," Cooper said on the Lightning's Power Play Podcast. "But I'm really excited about this year because there's less unknowns out there. We know each other, we know what our expectations are, we know what our standards are and we know what we can do. I think last year was a little bit of a coming out party for us. Now we have a little bit more of a bull's-eye on our back. Let's accept that challenge. I'm really, really excited for that."

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Lightning captain Stamkos early Hart Trophy choice

Sunday, 10.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Awkward silence.

When told he was being selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2015 Hart Trophy, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had nothing to say, and not because he was left speechless by an honor that comes with words and hype rather than hardware and bonus money.

Getting chosen as a preseason favorite for anything means about as much to Stamkos as the watermelons, Legos, wedding cake and plates he destroyed with his powerful slap shot during his most recent commercial shoot for Bauer.

That's to say it's altogether meaningless to him, with one exception:

"I hope I can," Stamkos said of winning the Hart Trophy.

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Quote of the Day

It's time we got a break. People that have watched us, I'm sure they said, 'Finally, some things are going our way.' We'll take the breaks when they go our way.

— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien after a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak
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