There won't be much for Vancouver Canucks fans to get excited about at the 2022 NHL Awards.
Perhaps the organization's best chance to place a finalist came up empty on Thursday, when the Jack Adams Award nominees were announced.
Voted by the NHL's broadcasters, the three names in the mix are Andrew Brunette of the Florida Panthers, Gerard Gallant of the New York Rangers and Darryl Sutter of the Calgary Flames.
That leaves Bruce Boudreau on the outside looking in.
Like Boudreau, all three finalists are relatively new in their positions. Sutter took over the Flames midway through last season, but couldn't get them into a playoff spot. Gallant took over a rebuilding Rangers team last summer, after earning an unlikely gold medal with Canada at the 2021 World Championship. And Brunette was promoted to the head job in Florida early this season, after Joel Quenneville resigned in the wake of the Kyle Beach scandal.
Unlike Boudreau, all three finalists got their teams to the playoffs this year — and voting takes place at the end of the regular season. Now, they're all through to the second round.
If the Canucks had pulled off their unlikely playoff push, I imagine Boudreau would have had a good shot at being named a finalist. But Sutter's nomination suggests that the Jack Adams voters think a bit like Jim Rutherford: they want to see a full season of work before handing out accolades.
Brunette, of course, didn't quite coach a full season. But 75 games is pretty close — especially when you come out of it with a Presidents' Trophy and a .720 points percentage.
But that number isn't the highest points percentage for an NHL rookie coach this season. Jay Woodcroft finished at .724 — and is also through to the second round. But his sample size was only 38 regular-season games.
Boudreau's mark was 32-15-10 over 57 games, for a points percentage of .649.
On Friday, the last group of NHL Award finalists will be announced — for the King Clancy Award. And only a winner will be announced for the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
At this point, no Canucks players are in the mix for any of the awards.
On Thursday, the NHL announced that the awards would be handed out hybrid-style. Some winners will be announced during pregame shows, starting June 1, and the remainder will be handed out during a one-hour live awards show on June 21.
The @NHL will begin revealing 2022 #NHLAwards winners Wednesday, June 1.
Now, speaking of the playoffs — I'd been feeling like those five Game 7s were a tough act to follow as Round 2 got underway this week. But Wednesday's night's wild Battle of Alberta upended that narrative in a hurry.
In the end, the detail that surprised me most is that Calgary's 9-6 win ended up being the highest-scoring playoff game in history between the Flames and the Edmonton Oilers.
When the rivalry was at its first peak back in the 80s, I didn't really have a rooting interest. Both were enemies of the Canucks, and that was that.
But I did care in 1986 — the year I entered my first-ever hockey pool.
I was lucky enough to win first pick in the playoff pool. And since the Oilers were coming off back-to-back championships and our pool awarded two points for goals by defensemen, I figured Paul Coffey was a can't-miss choice. He'd hit what turned out to be his career highs that year, with 48 goals and 138 points, and finished third in the scoring race behind his teammate Wayne Gretzky (215 points) and 20-year-old Mario Lemieux (141 points).
The Pens didn't make the playoffs. And I think we also had a rule that split up Gretzky's goals and Gretzky's assists — although I can't remember whether or not that was still in effect for the postseason.
Anyway. The Oilers met the Canucks in the first round that year and swept them handily in the best-of-five division semifinal, outscoring Vancouver by a total of 17-5.
That set up a second-round meeting with the Flames. It was a back-and-forth affair where the teams traded wins all the way through the series, and the Oilers' victories were the higher-scoring affairs — 6-5 in overtime in Game 2, 7-4 in Game 4 and 5-2 in Game 6.
Back at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton for Game 7, the Flames jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Hakan Loob and Jim Peplinski. But Glenn Anderson and Mark Messier replied to level the score before the end of the second period.
The critical moment came at 5:14 of the third, when Edmonton defenseman Steve Smith deflected the puck off Grant Fuhr and into his own net.
I'm surprised to see there were still more than 14 minutes left in the third period when Smith made that gaffe. That should have been plenty of time to recover.
But the game ended 3-2 for the Flames. And if I remember correctly, Coffey's elimination meant that my playoff pool was finished by the end of that second round.
He finished with one goal and nine assists in 10 games, giving him 11 points, by our count. The Flames went on to lose to rookie Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final, but that year's leading playoff scorers were Doug Gilmour and Bernie Federko of the St. Louis Blues, who both finished with 21 points in 19 games. They went the distance in all three of their series — beating the Minnesota North Stars in five games and the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven before losing in seven to Calgary in the Western Conference Final.
I haven't done a player pool in the playoffs for quite awhile, but I am quite pleased that I got 7-of-8 in the first round in my bracket this year. Of course, there were only two first-round upsets this year — the Blues taking out the Wild, and the Lightning eliminating the Maple Leafs. I got those right, but also incorrectly thought the Kings could vanquish the Oilers.
So, here are my second-round picks from my bracket: Colorado, Calgary, Carolina and Tampa Bay. The number of games isn't required past the first round. And, of course, I had Calgary beating L.A.
But my teams did all earn wins in Game 1, so that's promising. How's your bracket holding up?
And one quick note from the World Championship before I sign off today: with Latvia trailing 5-0 to Czechia after one period, Canucks' goaltending prospect Arturs Silovs is seeing his first game action of the tournament. He has been tapped to relieve Elvis Merzlikins, who was 1-2-0 with a 2.68 goals-against average heading into Thursday's game.
The Czechs have only one win so far in the tournament. But David Pastrnak has just arrived and made an immediate difference, with a goal and an assist in his first period of action.
Canada is also in action on Thursday. The start time for their game against Kazakhstan has been delayed to 11:30 a.m. PT due to a fire earlier in the day at the Helsinki Ice Hall.
A fire at ice level of the Helsinki Ice Hall ahead of Germany / Denmark game has forced everyone outside the arena. Game was expected to start at 4:20pm local time. #IIHFWorldspic.twitter.com/dAn33jxpFi