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NHL.com picks Lemaire for Adams Trophy

Friday, 02.25.2011 / 7:43 PM ET / Features
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NHL.com picks Lemaire for Adams Trophy
This weekend marks the three-quarter point of the 2010-11 regular season. As we hit the quarter pole, NHL.com takes a comprehensive look at where things stand. Certainly, the New Jersey Devils have been the main story line of the past month, making an unprecedented run at an unexpected playoff berth. But, there are also six other storylines that merit your attention in the final two months of the season. Also, we look at potential candidates for each of the major NHL Awards in our on-going Trophy Tracker features. Finally, we have updated our fantasy rankings as we head into the final 20-game portion of the regular season.

Under Lemaire, Devils have entered the playoff picture.
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At the midpoint of this season, Tampa Bay's Guy Boucher seemed a safe bet to take home the award for the League's best coach in the 2010-11 season. Despite numerous changes on Florida's gulf coast in personnel, ownership and the front office, Boucher had guided the young Lightning to an impressive first-half charge in a division typically ruled by the Washington Capitals.

A lot can change in 20 games, however.

While the Lightning are still bulling their way towards a division title, a midseason replacement has turned the race for this season's Jack Adams Trophy on its head by engineering what could end up one of the great comebacks ever, and it's in the Garden State, scene of that astonishing turn of events, that we find NHL.com's pick for the Adams at the season's three-quarter pole.

Winner:

Jacques Lemaire, New Jersey Devils -- As the calendar turned to 2011, the consensus was the Devils were simply playing out the remainder of their schedule. They would search for a couple of "feel-good" victories down the stretch and would ultimately set their sights on what would be a lottery pick at the 2011 Entry Draft.

Less than two months later, Jacques Lemaire is NHL.com's choice to win the Jack Adams Trophy as Coach of the Year.
 
Lemaire, who replaced John MacLean on Dec. 23, has orchestrated one of the more remarkable turnarounds in the history of the League. With Tuesday's 1-0 victory at Dallas, the Devils moved within nine points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It was New Jersey's eighth straight win and its 16th in 19 games (16-1-2).

Sure, there are other coaches certainly worthy of the award. But the fact that the Devils are even mentioned in this postseason race speaks volumes of the job Lemaire has done over the past two months. New Jersey was 27 points out of a playoff spot on Jan. 8.

"The team has good confidence," Lemaire said. "Guys, they don't panic. Last year compared to this year, it's pretty much the same group, but I know at certain times last year we panicked, and I don't see this now. It's the players that take charge, just the way they're talking on the bench. I feel they know what to do."

Runners-up:

Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay Lightning -- Our choice to win the award at the halfway point of the season, Boucher would still be our selection if not for Lemaire's heroics.

As they entered their 60th game of the season, the Lightning found themselves atop the Southeast Division at 34-18-7. Bolstered by the acquisitions of Dwayne Roloson, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Eric Brewer, the Bolts seem primed to make some noise when the Stanley Cup Playoffs get under way in April.

Alain Vigneault, Vancouver Canucks -- It's not easy to go wire-to-wire, but Vancouver has been an unstoppable force in the Northwest Division all season long, and that's a testament to the job Alain Vigneault has done behind the bench.

Despite injuries suffered to five key defensemen -- Keith Ballard, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alexander Edler and Andrew Alberts -- Vigneault has managed to not only keep his team afloat, but also atop the Western Conference standings. Sixty games into their season, the Canucks held a five-point lead on Detroit for the No. 1 seed.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59