The Jack Adams Award is given to the best coach in the NHL, and on Tuesday the finalists were announced. Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings, Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche were named as the finalists.
Babcock’s Red Wings were beset by injuries early in the season, and it continued throughout the year. As the injures continued to mount, to some of the best players on the team, Babcock led Detroit to a 39-28-15 record, good enough for 93 points and a 23rd consecutive playoff appearance. The Red Wings had only two players, Drew Miller and Kyle Quincey, who were able to play all 82 games. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, the best forwards on the team, both were unable to avoid the injury bug and both played in 45 games.
Steven Stamkos has been one of the best goal-scoring players in the league since 2009-10, so when the star forward broke his tibia Nov. 11, the future looked grim. Cooper was able to rally his team behind the stellar goaltending of Ben Bishop, and the point-per-game play from captain Martin St. Louis. Cooper also was able to get major contributions from two rookies in Ondrej Palat (36 assists, 59 points), and Tyler Johnson (24 goals, 50 points). Tampa Bay cruised to a 46-27-9 record, and with 101 points in the regular season, it was the best showing since 2010-11 when the Lightning had 103 points.
Last year the Colorado Avalanche were abused by fans, coaches and most of all, other teams. The Avalanche surrendered 53 goals in the first period, (second most in the league) and 58 goals in the second period (tied for the worst). The games were out of reach early, and the Avalanche stumbled to 29th place out of 30 teams. With no major changes during the offseason, Patrick Roy inherited the Avalanche and immediately turned the franchise around.
Roy instilled confidence in goalie Semyon Varlamov, who went from a .903 save percentage and 3.02 goals against last year, to a 2.41 goals against and a .927 save percentage this year. Varlamov’s play led the Avalanche to a 52-22-8 record with 112 points, third overall in the league.