As the mid-season reviews have been pouring in from around the league, the annual award projections are largely focused on the obvious leaders; Sidney Crosby for the Hart, Nick Lidstrom (or perhaps Dustin Byfuglien) for the Norris, Tim Thomas for the Vezina, etc. But as OTF reader Predmonton noted last night, when it comes to the Jack Adams Award for coaching, one of the best stories in hockey is getting overlooked.
Yes, Alain Vignault has led his Canucks to the top of the league standings, and Guy Boucher is heading an exciting turnaround in Tampa, but you have to wonder if Barry Trotz has topped himself in terms of squeezing the maximum results out of the tools he's given. The number and severity of injuries the Preds have had to deal with so far have been staggering, yet rookies and role players have been used to their best advantage, and we've seen guys like Shane O`Brien and Marek Svatos plugged into the lineup and provide immediate dividends. The Preds are, once again, among the Top Four in the West, and if they ever get healthy, would have to be considered a dark horse contender.
A huge part of the credit there has to go to Barry Trotz, the rest of the coaching staff, and of course the hockey operations group which identified and acquired the players who make it all happen.
After tonight's game in Florida, I'm joining Willy Daunic on 102.9 The Buzz's post-game radio show, so be sure to tune in and fire off a few questions over at the Preds' official Facebook page!
And now, follow on for all your morning hockey news...
The Chicago Blackhawks come in to Nashville on Saturday, your last chance to catch the Preds at home during the month of January! Save $6-24 each and use our Nashville Predators discount code for this, or any other home game.
Alabama-Huntsville and Merrimack take to Bridgestone ice this weekend - Nashville Predators Examiner
In your must-read Nashville hockey story of the day, Jim Diamond sets up the Friday/Saturday set of college games taking place at Bridgestone Arena this weekend. I used to watch the University of Alabama-Huntsville come up to play Michigan back in the early 90's, and now they bring two of Blake Geoffrion's brothers (Sebastian and Brice) to town.
Hockey still isn't the sport of the South, but it's growing under the influence of the Preds — even in Alabama | Nashville Scene
J.R. Lind looks at the UAH program in this piece for the Nashville Scene.
Preds On The Glass: Predators Hope to Avoid Panthers' Trap and Thursday Thoughts
Buddy channels his inner Admiral Ackbar.
Paul McCann - Game Night in Sunrise and some random notes...
Paul looks ahead to tonight's contest, and advises that he'll be working the PA for the college hockey games, too.
Hockey Night in Nashville: Game Preview: Preds vs. Panthers
Robby reminds us of what happened the last time the Preds & Panthers played. "One of the hardest hits in the history of hockey." And that's no overstatement.
Preview #43: Predators Play Florida For Shot At Seven Wins In A Row " Predlines | A Nashville Predators blog
Amanda notes that the Preds have won 5 out of their last 6 games against the Panthers.
In ultra-competitive West, Preds are last to allow 100 goals… | Section 303
The headline's not quite right (here's your OTF Reader Challenge - can you answer who else in the West hasn't given up 100, and why?), but it is impressive how the Preds have clamped down defensively since that awful game in Toronto.
Nashville ends up being right fit for Kostitsyn - USATODAY.com
Kevin Allen takes notice of Sergei Kostitsyn's rise to prominence here in Nashville.
Nashville Predators' David Legwand seeks to improve offensive game - The Tennessean
With the Smithson-Spaling-Ward line taking over the shutdown work, Leggy can focus on creating goals with Colin Wilson and Marek Svatos alongside.
Around the NHL
Video: Hockey crowd sings after 8-year-old's national anthem glitch - Puck Daddy
OK, this is a pretty wonderful story.
Midseason Goats: Biggest disappointments for all 30 NHL teams - Puck Daddy
It's hard to argue over Greg's pick here. The fall of J.P. Dumont over the last two years has been stunning.
The NHL’s top defensive defencemen at midseason - The Globe and Mail
Nashville's dynamic duo show up quite highly here.
"Cyclone" Taylor's game takes off in second quarter of his rookie season - Cult of Hockey
Hey now, the kid's done nothing to earn that label just yet.
NHL uses video room for more than just goal reviews - The Globe and Mail
Take a peek inside Toronto's "war room".
What’s So Special About Special Teams? - View From My Seats
The awesomeness of Nashville's PK is only matched by the ineptitude of their PP. Fortunately, they balance out on the whole.
Maple Leafs will be fined for Ron Wilson win bounty - Puck Daddy
Ron Wilson tried to be "one of the boys" by putting a bounty on the line when the Leafs played his former team, the San Jose Sharks, but that amounts to a violation of league rules.
Hockey Day in America is a Clear Chance For NHL to Counter-Program Another Busy Sports Day " Puck The Media
Can the NHL follow up on the Winter Classic with another TV success next month?