If the Canadian Press is right, the Caps will be checking a lot of hardware at Customs on Friday, as the news service has predicted a clean sweep of the four awards for which employees of the organization are nominated. Let's take a look:
Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player to his team) - Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames was dynamite and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins saved his team's season when Sidney Crosby was out. But this is a no-brainer. Alex Ovechkin's NHL-leading 65 goals, the most in 12 years, is the single-biggest reason the Washington Capitals made the playoffs. His year typified what the award is about - most valuable to his team.
Lester B. Pearson Award (most outstanding player as voted by fellow players) - Same finalists as the Hart. The players don't always see it the same way as the writers, often because the voting begins in mid-March for the NHLPA while the writers mostly wait until the end of the regular season. Still, it seems pretty obvious this year.
Calder Memorial Trophy (outstanding rookie) - The Chicago Blackhawks have a 66 per cent chance of winning it. Hawks centre Patrick Kane led all rookies with 72 points (21-51) in 82 games while linemate Jonathan Toews led rookies with 24 goals despite missing more than a month with a knee injury. Washington's Nicklas Backstrom was second in rookie scoring with 69 points in 82 games, his 55 assists leading all rookies. This is the toughest of them all to call, with all three fully deserving of the award. But it should be noted that Backstrom had a huge second half while helping his team make the playoffs.
Jack Adams Award (outstanding coach) - Detroit's Mike Babcock posted his third consecutive 50-win season with the Wings, leading his team to the best record in the NHL. Bruce Boudreau stepped behind the Washington bench in late November and led his club to a 37-17-7 record the rest of the way while winning the Southeast Division. Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens coached a young and rising team to the Eastern Confererence title. There is no wrong choice here.