The NHL has another award which it has no clue how to decide its winner with the GM of the Year award. The problem is that it is usually necessary to determine how well a GM is doing by looking at his record over many years. When you give the GM of the Year award, you wind up giving it to the GM of the most improved team, which is much like the way the coach of the year is often determined.
The inaugural nominees are Don Maloney of the Phoenix Coyotes, George McPhee of the Washington Capitals and David Poile of the Nashville Predators. It is widely believed that Maloney will win the award, just like Dave Tippett will win coach of the year. Both will win the awards because Phoenix was the most improved team. I do not believe the idea that Phoenix’s improvement is due to having both the best coach and the best GM in the league. It is just a simple way to give out an award to somebody who is in the right place at the right time.
The West Conference has a far better record than the East Conference this season and over the last several seasons. It is a case where increased travel has forced the west teams to improve, while east teams have been able to be complacent with weaker squads still making and competing for playoffs. The NHL CBA makes the inequity worse as the east players who have an easier run will outscore what they would have done in the west and thus get a bigger salary cap hit than they would otherwise have. Thus east teams effectively pay more for their players than west teams do. A west team will lose about 6 points relative to an east team due to increased travel and this gives west teams earlier draft picks and east teams later ones to increase the inequity. Further, the east teams have an increased number of games against each other, which somebody must win, thus inflating their point totals to give them higher draft picks than they would have if they played the west schedule. This has systematically made the West Conference the stronger conference and its lead appears to be increasing.
When I posted my second round playoff predictions, the most common comment was to tell me that I am wrong about San Jose defeating Detroit. San Jose are “chokers” and being that Kukla’s Korner is a Detroit-centric blog, there are tons of people ready to jump on you if you say something against Detroit whether it is deserved or not.
We are now three games into the second round series and see San Jose leading three games to none. It would be a remarkable comeback for Detroit to win the series. It is nearly impossible that it could occur. The top three scorers in the second round so far are Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley. Judging from comments, Pavelski was an after-thought and Thornton and Heatley were such proven scorers that their current success was impossible.
At season’s end, I picked Jimmy Howard as the Calder Trophy winner, wich Tuukka Rask also a nominee. The NHL chose to overlook Rask in the actual nominations because despite his leading Boston in goaltender games played and despite his leading the NHL in both goals against average and in saves percentage, he hadn’t played in enough games. Despite the fact Howard had a better rookie season, largely due to more games played, I think it is a safe bet that Tuukka Rask will be the better goalie.
Rask is about three years younger and is thus further along in his development at a common age. Rask put up better numbers at 22/23 than Howard did at 25/26 (although with fewer games) and is continuing to be the better of the two in the playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens have won so far in the playoffs because strong goaltending has limited their opponent’s goals. Jaroslav Halak has had some outstanding games. Because of the low goals against the Habs have allowed, their defence has gotten a lot of credit. I am not so sold that Montreal has a great team defence. They had a mid-level 13th best goals against average in the regular season. One defenceman on the team, Marc-Andre Bergeron has been a significant liability defensively.
Bergeron has a playoffs worst -10 +/- rating. He has been on the ice for 2 even strength goals scored and 12 against. He has been successful on the power play with seven Montreal power play goals for with him on the ice. Bergeron does not fit on the defence of a strong defensive team. He might be useful in a power play only role on a team if they can afford to have only five defencemen for even strength situations. Bergeron is the caricature that Mike Green detractors claim Green is.
Over the last couple weeks, the NHL has been announcing the nominees for the 2010 Awards. Here is who I would have voted for if i had an award ballot.
I will go through the NHL awards and comment on omissions and unworthy nominees and if the set of nominees makes any clear hints to who will win the awards.
The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs are over. Here are my first round picks. I went 5-3, missing the losses of each of the top three seeds in the East Conference. The fact that the West Conference was significantly better when playing the East Conference in the regular season coupled with the defeats of the top East Conference seeds make a West Conference Stanley Cup winner look quite likely at this point.
Here are my second round predictions:
The first round of the AHL playoffs completed last night. Here are the results:
Worcester Sharks defeat Lowell Devils 4 games to one Worcester is San Jose’s AHL affiliate and Lowell is that of the New Jersey Devils. Dan DaSilva and TJ Trevelyan led the Sharks in scoring with Danny Groulx leading the defence and Alex Stalock in goal. Lowell was led offensively by Alexander Vasyunov and Nick Palmeiri, with Matt Taormina leading the defence and Mike McKenna in goal.
The Boston Bruins defeated the Buffalo Sabres four games to two in a series that ended last night. Buffalo was widely considered the favorite as they had a nine point regular season advantage. One advantage Boston had in the series was that Buffalo failed to score a single goal on the power play in the series. The Boston penalty kill was perfect. During the regular season, Buffalo had a mid-level power play. They were ranked 17th in the league. It was led by Tim Connolly, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville and Tomas Vanek. Connolly the Sabres regular season leading point scorer on the power play was limited to one assist in the playoffs.
One of the greatest coaches in NHL history is retiring today. He won the Stanley Cup in 1995 and the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year twice. Lemaire spent much of his career coaching an expansion Minnesota Wild team that never built up a good enough core to be a serious contender. Nevertheless, Lemaire retires with 588 career wins, which is good for seventh overall all time. That number could have been higher if he coached a team with a larger talent pool than Minnesota. We also see how the coach of the year is often chosen poorly. The coach of the most improved is often given the award even when the improvement has little to do with coaching. As a result good teams with good coaches are often out of the running as they have nowhere to improve and good coaches with teams that drop for reasons that have nothing to do with coaching also find themselves out of the running. A coach of Lemaire’s ability should have easily won the Adams Trophy more than twice, but the NHL was giving it to such luminaries as Bill Barber and Bob Francis.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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