As we step into the middle of March, the smell of playoff hockey begins to tingle the noses of hockey fans across North America (and for the occasional fan overseas, as well). While each team steps up their intensity to try and put themselves in a good playoff position, we'll also get to see who's got a shot at winning this years NHL awards.
Right now, three Bruins stand with a good reason to take home a personal award, alongside anything else the B's can take home from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. ]Here's how the trophy races look:
Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player)-
Photo via zimbio.com
There are a few candidates who's names you have to include in this year's Hart Trophy race. Among them is Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks. Getzlaf ranks third in the league in points (with 71 points, 29 goals in 61 games). He's also been the league's best even-strength scorer, with 3.38 points per 60 minutes. Meanwhile, Getzlaf gets it done on the other end of the ice as well, where he averages 2:14 of shorthanded ice time per game, and has been a huge part of the Ducks' success this season.
Phil Kessel has also given us a reason to take a look at him for the award. Toronto sits in the third spot of the Eastern Conference, largely because of Kessel's work. He currently sits at second in the league in points (with 74), and the Leafs have needed it, with a lack of scoring depth in Toronto. When Kessel goes point-less in a game, the Leafs are 5-8-2.
Of course, Sidney Crosby's name has to be considered for the award as well. Crosby has tallied 87 points in 64 games, 33 of which came on the power play, which is the best in the league. Although Crosby has scored a point in 49 of Pittsburgh's 64 games, he is only a plus 9, which goes to show a lack of defensive work from Sid the Kid.
James Norris Trophy (Best All-around Defenseman)
Photo via committedindians.com
The Norris Trophy has a couple of very good candidates, including Chicago's Duncan Keith, and St. Louis' Alex Pietrangelo. Keith ranks second among defensman in scoring, and has several other use for the Blackhawks, including his special teams play. Meanwhile, Pietrangelo has 44 points in 64 games for the Blues, and is a plus 18.
Ryan Suter of Minnesota has also been a strong contender for this years race. He leads all defenseman with 29:52 seconds of ice-time per game, and is very valuable on the St. Louis special teams. Drew Doughty of the L.A. Kings is also in the running, with 32 points in 66 games, and is a plus 19 on the season.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie) When your discussing this years Vezina trophy candidates, Tuukka Rask is one of the first names mentioned. Rask has been stellar in net for the Bruins this season, with a 28-14-4 record, and a .926 save percentage (third in the league). He also leads the league with six shutouts on the season, and has been a big part of the Bruins success this season, helping to give them a 13 point lead on Toronto, who trails Boston in the standings.
Another big-name goaltender making a statement this season is Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. Quick has mustered up a 2.02 goals against average, and it doesn't look to be rising. He's been on a hot streak in March so far, winning each of his four games, allowing just 1.25 goals per game, and tallying a .943 save percentage this month.
Photo via cbssports.com
Ben Bishop of Tampa Bay is also a top contender for the Vezina. Bishop has posted a .929 save percentage on the season, alongside a 2.10 goals against average. With Stamkos' injury earlier this season, Bishop took on a very tough task of trying to keep Tampa Bay in the race this season, and he has passed with flying colors. The Lightning currently sit in the 5th spot in the East, but are just 3 points out of third.
Ryan Miller has also made a strong name for himself. Miller played well in Buffalo this season, despite the Sabres troubles in the standings. His .924 save percentage is very strong, especially considering the team he had in front of him for the majority of the season. Now, with Miller sporting a Blues logo, we're getting the chance to see how he does with an excellent team to help him out. Since coming to St. Louis, Miller has posted an outstanding 4-0 record, with a 1.50 goals against average. It'll be interesting to see how he holds up in the playoffs.
One more name that we should throw out there is is Marc-Andre Fleury. He's led Pittsburgh to the top spot in the East (for now), and has done so while posting a 2.26 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage.
Calder Trophy (Best Rookie) Another Bruin sits in the spotlight for the Calder Trophy. That Bruin, of course, is Torey Krug. Since breaking into the NHL with an outstanding scoring touch in the playoffs last year, Krug has been a huge part of the Bruins blue-line. With injuries surrounding the Boston defense, the pressure has been amped-up for the young guys trying to make a name for themselves, and Torey Krug ha been at the top of that list. He leads all rookie defensemen in goals, and scoring, with 13 goals and 35 points.
Photo via totalprosports.com
That being said, it seems that Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche will take home the Calder Trophy this season. MacKinnon leads all rookies in goals (22), and assists (29) for 59 points, as well as game-winning goals (5) and shots (184). Plus, his 13-game point streak broke The Great One's record for longest point streak by an 18-year old.
Frank J Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)
Photo via zastavki.com
As is no surprise, Boston's Patrice Bergeron ranks among the top of the list for the Selke Trophy. This guy can do it all. He leads the league with 1,389 faceoffs taken, which he has won 822 of (59.2%). He's been a huge part of the Bruins penalty kill, and is consistently great for the Bruins defensively. His 2:01 of short-handed ice time per game leads the Bruins, all while being the classiest guy you'll ever meet. He also leads the league in possesion, with a 5v5 CF of 61.1%. Oh, and did we mention he's a plus 32 (which is the best in the league)? Bergeron is by far the top candidate for the trophy.
Jonathan Toews, another extremely respectable player, has also been one the leagues elite defensive forwards.