The NHL Awards are not everything and are certainly not the Stanley Cup, but they are still pretty sweet. Last season, Patrice Bergeron won the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award for his role in growing the game of hockey in the community. He also finished second in voting for the Selke Trophy for the best defensive forward, an award he has been a finalist for a record-setting 10 straight seasons and has won four times.
Outside of Bergeron last season, recent Bruins’ award winners include David Pastrnak, who was a co-winner for the Art Ross Trophy with Alex Ovechkin in 2020, and Bruce Cassidy, who won the Jack Adams Award, which is given to the deemed best coach, in 2020 for the 2019-20 season.
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This year, while it is still way too early to know for sure who will be a finalist for each award, there are several members of the Bruins who should at least be in the conversation for a few 2022 NHL Awards at this point in the season.
Brad Marchand for the Hart Trophy
Last season, Brad Marchand finished fifth in voting for the Hart Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most valuable player in the league. In 2021, it was unanimously given to Connor McDavid, who will once again be in the conversation for the award.
There are obviously many, many talented players in the NHL, so traditionally, two factors come into play when voting takes place for the award. The first is whether or not the player’s team made the playoffs that season. Usually, even if a player had an absolutely phenomenal season, if their team didn’t make the playoffs, they’re not going to win the Hart.
The other factor that comes into play is just how valuable the player is to their team. When looking at the Boston Bruins this season, they are nowhere without Marchand. Bergeron is also having a phenomenal season and continues to be an incredibly important leader for the team, but, especially in recent weeks, Marchand is the most valuable player for this team on the ice.
In 30 games played, he has 43 points and is a plus-5. The Bruins have been without Marchand in five games this season due to COVID protocols and suspension. They only won one out of those five games. They are a completely different team when he is on the ice and if he remains healthy, he’s on pace to finish the season with over 100 points for the second time in his career.
The other extraordinary thing about Marchand’s career is that he’s completely changed his game in the second half of his career. He’s playing better hockey at the age of 33 than he did at the age of 23 when he broke into the league in the 2010-11 season. Then, he finished with 41 points in 77 games, which he has already surpassed in 30 games this season. It isn’t too often that a player has this much more of an impact in their 30s than they did in their 20s.
But, his past will continue to haunt him and will most likely be the biggest thing holding up back with voters. This season, he had his first suspension since 2018, missing three games for slew-footing. Despite the complete change to his play, Marchand is still most known for being a nuisance on the ice. He toes the line and occasionally goes too far and crosses over it. He is certainly not the only player in this league to do that, but considering the incidents that have arisen this season, it may hurt his chances for a Hart Trophy.
Still, given his elite play and just how much of a game-changer for the Bruins he is, Marchand should at least be a finalist at the end of this season (barring any unforeseen injuries or a complete drop-off in play). In the NHL and many other professional sports leagues, oftentimes players can be awarded when they’re “due.” I would argue that he has been due for a few seasons now to be a finalist and 2022 should be the year.
Patrice Bergeron for the Selke Trophy
Is this even a surprise? I already mentioned the stats for Bergeron and the Selke Trophy earlier. At this point, any season he’s playing, he’s going to at least be in the conversation for the trophy, if not a finalist. He’s made what is sure to be a Hall of Fame career on being one of the best two-way forwards of all time.
At age 36, Bergeron shows little signs of slowing down. His faceoff win percentage is currently at 63.0%, the highest of his career. This is coming off of a great 2020-21 season where he finished with a 62.2%, the highest of his career and above his career average of 58.9%.
Bergeron continues to be one of the best penalty killers on the Bruins and while the power play has been a source of struggle for the team overall this season, the captain continues to play at a ridiculously high level.
It would honestly take a complete collapse in the second half of the season for Bergeron not to be considered for the Selke. He has been one of the best two-way forwards in the league so far this season.
Charlie McAvoy for the Norris Trophy
In my four wishes for the Bruins’ 2021-22 season, I wrote that I would love to see Charlie McAvoy as a finalist for the Norris Trophy. I still think he should be in the conversation, but we’ll see how the rest of the season goes. He missed a game earlier this month with a “lingering lower-body injury” and hasn’t looked quite the same in the games since. With the packed schedule the team has, he won’t get much of a chance to rest.
Still, McAvoy continues to be a difference-maker for the Bruins and one of the best defensemen in the league. He’s taken another step offensively this season, currently sitting on 23 points in 32 games, including five goals. The most goals he’s ever scored in a season is seven and he is definitely looking like he will surpass that, as well as his previous career-high in points 32.
McAvoy is also a plus-10 this season, bringing his career total to a plus-90. He’s building the offensive talent while maintaining terrific play in his own zone. We’ll see if his injury comes into play anymore this season, but he should still be in the Norris conversation.
Stanley Cup Reigns Supreme
As mentioned already, NHL awards are great but the Stanley Cup remains the ultimate goal. While the Bruins still have a ways to go and issues to address (they need to get a defenseman at the trade deadline), 2022 has really been a turning point for the Bruins so far. They are producing convincing wins and are getting contributions from up and down the lineup. The return of a healthier, rejuvenated Tuukka Rask isn’t hurting either.
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As the halfway point in the Bruins’ season draws closer, they are playing with more energy than they did going into their COVID pause at the end of December. They may not be complete contenders yet, but they may be dangerous if they continue to build momentum and get some long win streaks going. As for awards, we’ll have to see what happens at the end of the season.