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Trophy Tracker

Laviolette, leading Predators, still Adams favorite

Tuesday, 03.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

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

Not even an injury to a Hart and Vezina Trophy contender could derail Peter Laviolette and the Nashville Predators.

Goalie Pekka Rinne was leading the NHL with 29 wins when he sustained a sprained knee Jan. 13, but the Predators held steady to maintain their place at the top of the Central Division. When Rinne was injured, the Predators led the Chicago Blackhawks by two points and the St. Louis Blues by five points. When he returned Feb. 5, they were two points ahead of the Blues and eight in front of the Blackhawks.

At the quarter pole of the season, Nashville leads the race for the Presidents' Trophy and Laviolette remains the favorite to win the Jack Adams Award given to the NHL's top coach.

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Vezina favorite Price elevating game for Canadiens

Tuesday, 03.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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

The Montreal Canadiens won their fourth straight game Saturday and are building on their lead atop the Atlantic Division. One could make a strong case their goaltender is the biggest reason why.

Carey Price has been sensational all season long and was named the NHL's Second Star for the month of February after going 9-1-1 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in 11 games. He closed out the month by shutting out the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-0 win at Bell Centre on Saturday when he made 30 saves.

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Bergeron continues to strut Selke credentials

Monday, 03.02.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

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

During his second shift against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 22, Patrice Bergeron hopped over the boards and turned a normally routine play for his opponents into a goal for the Boston Bruins.

Each team was in the midst of changing its forwards. As Chicago forward Patrick Sharp left the puck for Brent Seabrook, Bergeron sped into the zone, first in on the forecheck. Seabrook was buying time, waiting for the Blackhawks to get a new forward unit on the ice, but Bergeron's efforts expedited the play. Seabrook was forced to fire a cross-ice pass to Michal Rozsival, who was quickly met by Bergeron. Rozsival was hurried into attempting a difficult outlet pass, Chicago turned over the puck, and the Bruins went the other way, with Bergeron ending the sequence by tipping home a pass from Reilly Smith.

These kinds of plays are routine for Bergeron, the best defensive forward in all of hockey, and the Selke Trophy favorite at the quarter pole of the 2014-15 season.

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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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Quote of the Day

I look forward to the process, the battle, the pain, the fun, the journey.  It's going to be a long one but it's going to be a lot of fun. If you think there is no pain coming, there is pain coming.

— Mike Babcock, introduced as coach of the Toronto on Thursday, had a warning for fans