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NHL.com picks Lemaire for Adams Trophy

Friday, 02.25.2011 / 7:43 PM / 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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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 49 28 13 8 145 125 64
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 49 18 22 9 110 137 45
15 CAR 48 17 25 6 104 125 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 42 10 16 -2 26
J. Jagr 45 9 16 -12 25
M. Cammalleri 37 15 6 -2 21
P. Elias 39 6 15 -13 21
M. Zidlicky 49 4 16 -9 20
M. Ryder 42 6 12 -2 18
T. Zajac 41 8 8 -6 16
S. Gomez 25 4 12 -7 16
S. Bernier 34 7 7 2 14
M. Havlat 31 5 8 -9 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 17 19 5 .922 2.36
K. Kinkaid 1 3 3 .913 2.54