Tomorrow night is the NHL's version of The Oscars: The NHL Awards (boy, what a killjoy opening sentence).
I did one of these blogs a couple of years ago on my MySpace, with somewhat successful results. I went 4-for-8. You can read the predictions blog here:
And how I did here:
I'm going to try it again this year, although I'm not looking to improve on my results from '06.
With that said, there are eight awards to analyze and pick. Let's get started.
First, the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie-of-the-year. The nominees are:
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
I was saying Toews when the finalists were announced, but after looking over the stats, I'll have to pick Kane. He played in all 82 games, and racked up 72 points. Toews missed 18 games because of injury. Nonetheless, both did very, very well, and are making the Blackhawks matter again in Chicago. Backstrom, though, could provide an upset. He learned quite a lot playing alongside Alexanders Ovechkin and Semin in the Nation's Capital this year.
Next up, the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The finalists:
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings (first nomination)
John Madden, New Jersey Devils (fourth nomination)
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings (first nomination)
Well, Madden's out immediately, because he's in between two Red Wings. Datsyuk's good with the poke check, but Zetterberg doesn't mind throwin' the body around. He'll be putting this trophy next to his Conn Smythe.
Next up, THE award, the Hart Memorial Trophy for League MVP:
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames (third nomination)
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (first nomination)
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (first nomination)
C'mon. Even Santa Claus is picking Ovechkin to win this. Next!
And what is next is the award for the men behind the benches, the Jack Adams Award. The finalists:
Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings
Bruce Boudreau, Washington Capitals
Guy Carbonneau, Montreal Canadiens
I just don't know how you can deny Boudreau this award. The Caps were out of the playoffs before Thanksgiving (the American one; oh hell, the Canadian one, too). But instead of taking it, they told Glen Hanlon to get lost. Boudreau comes in, and the Caps win the Southeast Division, and push the Flyers to seven games before getting the boot. Babcock's a good coach, but the Wings would be just as dangerous with Scotty Bowman still behind the bench as they would be with Mike. It's not Guy's time yet, but he's at least proving that a great player can be a great coach, too.
And now, the James Norris Memorial Trophy for the NHL's best defensemen. One of the finalists is no surprise:
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins (second nomination)
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings (ninth nomination within the last ten seasons)
Dion Phaneuf, Calgary Flames (first nomination)
Someday, they'll put Lidstrom's name on this award alongside Norris'. Make it six for Captain Sweden.
Now, the award for the perfect gentlemen, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings (won trophy the last two seasons)
Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres (first nomination)
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning (third nomination)
I'll say Datsyuk threepeats. I don't know what else to say.
Next up, the award all the players vote on, the Lester B. Pearson Award for the League's Most Outstanding Player. The nominees are the same as for the Hart:
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames (second nomination)
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (first nomination)
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (second nomination)
I can't see the players not giving this to Ovie, either, so I'll say Alexander the Great.
Lastly, the Vezina Trophy for the League's best goalie. The nominees, please:
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils (three-time winner)
Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks (first nomination)
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers (third nomination)
Eh, I really don't know who to pick, so I'll go with the safe bet, Martin Brodeur.
Thanks to statisticians, the following awards have already been handed out:
Art Ross Memorial Trophy: Alexander Ovechkin
Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy: Alexander Ovechkin
NHL Plus/Minus Award: Pavel Datsyuk
Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award: Dan Ellis (I had no idea about this one. I must congratulate Dan on this achievement, and I hope that it fuels him to re-signing with the Preds. Or that the Preds re-sign him.)
William M. Jennings Trophy: Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy also has three finalists, as explained by Wikipedia:
Jason Blake Toronto Maple Leafs (Was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia but still played in all 82 games this season.)
Chris Chelios Detroit Red Wings (Played 24 regular seasons and is the second oldest player in NHL history.)
Fernando Pisani Edmonton Oilers (Missed training camp and the first 26 games of the season because of ulcerative colitis then returned to the Oilers and played the remaining 56 games.)
I'm not picking a winner here. All three men deserve the honor.
Also to be given out are the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for the player who best exemplifies great qualities both on and off the ice, and the Lester Patrick Trophy, for the persons who best made contributions to hockey in the United States.
We'll see how I did (and how you did, too; if you've got something to say, post a comment below), beginning at 7 PM Eastern time on Versus and CBCSports.ca. The CBC's telecast will begin at 8 PM Eastern, 8:30 Newfoundland time, although I'm sure that Scott Oake and Kelly Hrudey will host a Red Carpet Show beginning a half-hour before. The NHL Network will have a Red Carpet Show beginning at 6 PM Eastern, so you can see what (and who) all the players, coaches, and their wives/girlfriends, as well as Dan Pollard, Todd Lewis, Brian Duff, Bob Errey, Gary Green, or whomever's doing this for the NHL Network, are wearing. Ron MacLean, I'm sure, is hosting the big show.
Oh, and now you know what the M. stands for.