Something for the scribes to ponder before Game 2 of the Western Conference semi-final between the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators: Both coaches involved in the series are up for the Jack Adams trophy as coach of the year. The NHL announced the finalists Friday morning and it comes as no surprise that the three finalists - Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma is the other candidate - all managed to keep their teams humming along, despite dealing with massive injury issues.
The short and dirty updates:
Bylsma is a first-time finalist and helped the Penguins earned the second-most points (106) and victories (49) in franchise history, overcoming a total of 350 man-games lost due to injury in the process. Jordan Staal missed the entire first half and both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were out for most of Pittsburgh's final 35 games. During that stretch Pittsburgh posted a 20-11-4 record for a .629 points percentage.
Barry Trotz is up for the award for the second year in a row, after losing out to Phoenix's Dave Tippett a year ago. Despite a limited budget, the Predators (44-27-11) made the pllayoffs for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, finishing fifth in the West after the most competitive Conference race in League history. The Predators again employed stingy defense and balanced scoring to finish in the West's top eight; they ranked third in the NHL in team goals-against (2.28) and had their four top scorers (Sergei Kostitsyn, Martin Erat, Patric Hornqvist and Shea Weber) separated by just two points.
Trotz is likely the favourite, but Alain Vigneault would be a good choice, just because coaches of talented teams rarely get credit for the work they do behind the bench. Vancouver won the President's Trophy and set all those single-season franchise records - for most points, most victories and most road wins (27). They scored the most goals in the NHL (262), allowed the fewest (185), ranked number one in power-play percentage (24.3%) and placed third in penalty killing (85.6%). The Canucks did that despite so many injuries to so many different defencemen that they used 13 in all during the season and didn't get their projected top six in place until the regular-season finale in Calgary. Vigneault is the only one of the three to previously win the award. This is his third nomination; he won back in 2007with the Canucks and finished second with the Montreal Canadiens in 2000.