Vezina trophy ("to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position): Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres. Runners-up: Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes; Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames.
Lost in the aftermath of Calgary's disappointing season was how well Kiprusoff played this year, after just a so-so campaign the year before. Jarome Iginla said it: Kiprusoff might have been better this year than the time he established a modern-day record by putting up a 1.69 GAA. But the goalie race will come down to Miller and Bryzgalov, both of whom backstopped offensively challenged teams to unexpected playoff berths with consistent, night-after-night brilliance between the pipes. Bryzgalov will finish with more wins, Miller will be a touch better in the goals-against and save percentage departments. Ultimately, the GMs will need to decide which of two exceptional, almost mirror-image performances was superior. Good luck to them.
Frank J. Selke Trophy ("to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game"): Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks. Runners-up: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins; Vernon Fiddler, Phoenix Coyotes.
Always a wide array of choices here because so many factors enter into consideration, but Kesler has stepped up his game to another level this season and gave the Canucks arguably the best one-two punch down the middle of any team this season. Bergeron's strong two-way play earned him a spot on Canada's men's Olympic hockey team; and his presence became even more critical in Boston, once Marc Savard was lost to a season-ending concussion. Fiddler is part of that unsung collection of Coyotes' forwards that provided leadership, shot-blocking, and an all-around defensive presence on a team that needed to win a lot of close games to be competitive.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy ("to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability"): Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning. Runners-up: Brad Richards, Dallas Stars; Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators.
Interestingly, the aforementioned three have combined to finish as runners-up for this award for the past five seasons, St. Louis three times (the last three years) and Richards and Alfredsson before that. Richards also won the award back in 2004, before Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk rattled off four consecutive Byng trophies in each year since the lockout ended. That St. Louis has never won this award is something of a surprise, but he should be a mortal lock, given that he is currently fifth in the NHL in scoring, with 91 points, plays with fire and energy, but has been limited to six minor penalties all season. His former Tampa teammate Richards was almost as good, playing for Dallas, another playoff also-ran this season. As for Alfredsson, he was a reliable point-per-game performer again this season, but will mix it up as needed.
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