The Capitals are off to western Canada, beginning a four-game road trip...
The NHL Awards: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
The NHL Awards didn’t provide much for the Capitals demographic this year, or for anyone who enjoys a good television in general. Mike Green was the sole representative for the team as a nominee for the NHL Foundation Award, which was eventually awarded to L.A. Kings’ captain, Dustin Brown.
Though a measurement of the individual players’ seasons, a lot can be told about a team when looking at the sway of the votes. Not much can be said in favor of the Caps, but compared to last year there has been some improvement.
The Ugly: The Defense
From having two defensemen technically in the race; Mike Green was second to Duncan Keith and Jeff Schultz tied with Dion Phaneuf for 16th in 2010; the Capitals had no representatives for the Norris this year. At the time, Green led in defensive scoring and was second only to Schultz in plus/minus. Dennis Wideman was the only Washington defenseman to crack to the top 30 this season.
As a result, Neither Schultz nor Green returned to the All-Star Career defense roster.
The fact that there was no Vezina contention in 2010 does not make the fact that there was none this year any better. But with Olaf Kolzig making his comeback to the Washington stratosphere, the development of Neuvirth, Holtby, and possibly, maybe Varlamov, will hopefully change that legacy.
The Bad: The Offense
Three players were in Hart contention last year; Alex Ovechkin came up second to Henrik Sedin, Nicklas Backstrom came out at 11th and Green followed at 14th. Ovechkin was the only one to return, but dropped to 15th and again surrounded by Henriks, behind Lundqvist and right above Zetterberg.
Things remained level in the Lady Byng category, as Backstrom bottomed out at 54th with Zdeno Chara, Sidney Crosby, J.P. Dumont, Mike Fisher, Paul Kariya, and seven other players. Brooks Laich came in to replace the center along the 48th spot with the 13 other players who tied for last this year.
While not entirely consistent with last year´s results, three Caps remained among the Selke pool this year; Laich at 11th, Boyd Gordon at 40th, and Backstrom in the 53th slot. Only Backstrom returned from last year, though he dropped from 10th, while Eric Fehr and Ovechkin didn’t make the list.
Ovechkin was able to break into the Second All-Star team this year, though Alexander Semin and Backstrom were excluded from the distinction.
The Good: The Development
Carlson was only one of two Capitals to receive any first place votes as he placed fifth for the Calder trophy. Neuvirth represented the rookie goalies with Sergei Bobrovsky and Corey Crawford, placing the lowest of the three at 14th. While they did have similar regular season performances, of the three, Neuvirth performed the best in the playoffs.
Carlson was also able to make it onto the All-Rookie team.
George McPhee, though responsible for the responsible maturation of the players, dropped from a frontrunner for the GM award to sixth place behind Pittburgh’s Ray Shero. Only David Poile of Nashville was able to maintain his high rating from last year
Pittsburgh got the upperhand in coaching too as Dan Bylsma took the Jack Adams trophy. But the improvement of Bruce Boudreau seemingly was noted. The only other Cap with first place votes, Boudreau improved from the 10th place spot to sixth in 2011. Not that it’ll do anything for his popularity.