For all intents and purposes, the Montreal Canadiens have reached the halfway point of the 2014-15 season. And, with the team boasting an impressive 26-12-2 record, some hardware could be in the future of a few Habs.
It’s admittedly unlikely, but not out of the question all the same. Here are the most likely Canadiens to win NHL awards if the season ended today:
Michel Therrien – Jack Adams Award
There’s little denying that few people expected the Habs to be out of first place in the Atlantic by just two points this far into the season. Fewer still thought they’d be that far out of first in the Eastern Conference. Fewer still (zero people, in other words) thought they’d be just four out of first place in the entire NHL (with two games in hand).
On that basis alone, Michel Therrien is a worthwhile candidate for the Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the NHL.
However, it’s worth noting that most everyone had the Central Division’s Nashville Predators out of the playoffs altogether. Instead they lead it, ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, two legitimate contenders. As a result, Peter Laviolette probably has the market cornered on the whole “head coach of an overachieving team” racket.
If by the grace of the God, there’s some slim piece of pie left, consideration should go to Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets if they stay in a playoff spot, not to mention Jack Capuano, whose New York Islanders are entertaining to watch… and for all the right reasons this season. Meanwhile Bruce Boudreau’s Anaheim Ducks lead the league, despite being second in man-games lost.
So, while Therrien has done a legitimately good job this season, especially in recent games with the Habs having actually scored first in—no joke—five straight games (with some goals even coming in the first period!), there are coaches who are more worthy of the award.
There’s no shame in that… although in past years there probably may have been in hypothetically losing out to Capuano.
Marc Bergevin – General Manager of the Year
On the subject of the Islanders, general manager Garth Snow might very well win the NHL GM of the Year award for the rabbit(s) he was able to pull out of his hat earlier this season (former-Chicago Blackhawk Nick Leddy and former-Boston Bruin Johnny Boychuk to buoy his team’s defense). The year-over-year turnaround in terms of shots against per game has been incredible (27.2 this year vs. 30.0 last).
However, Marc Bergevin definitely deserves some love as well.
Exhibit A: He found a taker for backup goalie Peter Budaj, in the process finding room on the roster for Dustin Tokarski (instead of risking another team grabbing him off waivers on the way down to the American Hockey League)
Exhibit B: He rid himself of Rene Bourque and Travis Moen’s deals to give himself some cap flexibility next season
Exhibit C: He acquired valuable depth forward P.A. Parenteau and a draft pick in exchange for the unwanted Daniel Briere this past offseason
Exhibit D: He signed the highly sought-after Jiri Sekac, who has established himself as a solid two-way presence on the Habs this season
It would be Snow’s second unofficial title, after he was named NHL Executive of the Year by Sports Illustrated for the 2006-07 season… clearly on the strength of the 15-year deal he gave to one Rick DiPietro that pre-season.
However, should Bergevin get at least a nod, it would be his third straight nomination, which might actually be the more impressive accomplishment considering the seven seasons between Snow’s two “wins.”
Carey Price – Vezina Trophy
If Carey Price continues to play as he has been for the remainder of the season, there’s no good reason he won’t secure his first ever Vezina nomination.
He is second in wins (22; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has 26). He is sixth in save percentage (.927), with three goaltenders ahead of him having played essentially half the amount of games he has (33). Another, Craig Anderson (.929 in 25 games), plays for the Ottawa Senators (which isn’t technically an insult but sounds like one, which tells you all you need to know). And, finally, he is fifth in goals-against average (2.20), again with several goalies in front of him having played just 17 games at this point.
About the only significant statistical category in which he isn’t a leader is shutouts, and, really, all that means is he’s had to be more consistent every game in order to rank in the other ones. It’s also a statistical category led by Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, so… yeah, there’s that.
Realistically speaking, Price will not even be nominated for the Hart, even though one can definitely make an argument he deserves it more than the Vezina as the player most valuable to his team (there is no team currently in the playoffs, let alone one so close to first place, that has faced more shots per game than the Habs).
Still a nomination for the latter is nothing to scoff at and would certainly be justified. A(nother) win, meanwhile? Maybe slightly less so, but it is definitely possible.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.