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Trophy Tracker

Predators' Rinne favorite to win Vezina Trophy

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne was NHL.com's choice to win the Vezina Trophy at the quarter pole. He had 14 wins in 18 decisions, a 1.97 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Rinne continues to be the top goalie in the League midway through the 2014-15 season, though he is expected to miss the next 3-5 weeks with a sprained knee sustained Tuesday in a win against the Vancouver Canucks.

The 32-year-old leads the NHL with 29 victories, five more than Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. Rinne is second in GAA (1.96) behind Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues, who has played 17 fewer games. Rinne is tied for second in save percentage (.931) with Michael Hutchinson (Winnipeg Jets) trailing Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche). Pickard and Hutchinson have a combined 29 starts between them; Rinne has started 37 games.

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Analytics bolster Selke candidacy of Bruins' Bergeron

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the first half of the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of its biggest storylines and award contenders.

The Boston Bruins spent part of the first half of this season without defenseman Zdeno Chara and forward David Krejci, and without goaltender Tuukka Rask stopping shots at his previously elite level.

Boston did still have center Patrice Bergeron, and one of the team's top four players performing at an elite level helped keep the Bruins from freefalling out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs chase. Chara and Krejci are back, Rask is playing well again and the Bruins are churning toward safety and an eighth consecutive postseason appearance.

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Predators' Forsberg remains Calder Trophy leader

Tuesday, 01.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

It was only a year ago when Filip Forsberg helped Sweden win a silver medal at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship on home ice in Malmo, Sweden.

Forsberg had four goals, 12 points and a plus-3 rating in seven games as captain for Tre Kronor but his country lost the gold medal game in overtime to Finland. The experience as a top point producer and leader for an entire country has certainly carried over to the NHL with the Predators this season.

Forsberg, who was ranked No. 12 on NHL.com's Top 60 prospects ranking, remains our top candidate to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year.

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Kings' Doughty worthy of Norris crown thus far

Monday, 01.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the first half of the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of its biggest storylines and award contenders.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter has been the NHL's leading minute man in each of the past two seasons.

He's still leading the League in average time on ice per game, but he missed two games because of the mumps, and Drew Doughty has taken the mantle as the most-used skater in the NHL to this point in the 2014-15 season.

To be clear, just leading the NHL in time on ice is not reason to be the leading contender for the Norris Trophy. There are many examples of defensemen whose performances have suffered because they arguably played too much (Suter before this season could be placed in that group).

That said, Doughty has been the best defenseman in the NHL through the midway point of the season. His ability to perform at an elite level despite playing more than 29 minutes per game enhances his resume and gives him a slight edge in comparison to a few others with a legitimate claim for the award at this point.

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Penguins' Malkin earns Hart vote at halfway point

Sunday, 01.11.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

With the first half of the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of its biggest storylines and award contenders.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin scored a goal Wednesday against the Boston Bruins that offered a window into how he feels about himself and his game this season.

He had awareness. Malkin quickly broke out from below the dots in the defensive zone as soon as he instinctively felt Penguins defenseman Christian Ehrhoff had the puck and could get it to him.

He generated speed. Malkin blew past Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton in the neutral zone to create room for himself in the attacking zone, above the left circle.

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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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