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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 - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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