Trophy race: Close fight at Jack-Adams between Montgomery and Ruff

As we enter a quarter of the 2022-23 season, publishes a series of articles on those who would be likely to win the various individual trophies that will be awarded at the end of the campaign. Today, the Jack-Adams trophy, awarded to the coach of the year in the NHL.

Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery and New Jersey Devils pilot Lindy Ruff are neck and neck after a vote of members to determine the most deserving coaches of the year.

Both drivers earned 44 points, but Montgomery has a slight advantage with five first-place votes to Ruff’s four, and it’s fully deserved. The Bruins are first in the overall NHL standings and have only suffered three losses (17-3-0) since the start of the season.

What is all the more impressive is that Boston has maintained such a performance by being deprived of two pillars at the start of the season. the attacker Brad Marchand made his debut on Oct. 27 after having surgery on both hips in the offseason, while Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins’ No. 1 defenseman, made his first game on November 10 after undergoing shoulder surgery. This is without counting the absence of the defender Matt Grzelcyk, who missed the first four games of the season. He too went under the knife to treat a shoulder injury.

“I want us to be recognized across the League as a team you have to be prepared against, otherwise you’ll be playing on the heels,” warned Montgomery when he was hired last July. “From now on, I hope to improve some aspects by introducing a different style – every coach has a different way of leading – and hopefully that will lead to a bit more attacking. »

Montgomery can say mission accomplished. The Bruins lead the NHL in just about every category. They are first in goals scored per game average (4.05), first in goals against (2.25), third in power play performance (30.3 percent) and second in efficiency outnumbered (85.7).

It would be a fine show of resilience from Montgomery if he managed to get his name engraved on the Jack-Adams. The 53-year-old struggled with an alcohol addiction while managing the Dallas Stars, and on December 10, 2019, the organization fired him for allegedly unprofessional conduct . He confronted his demons afterwards, and the Bruins are now reaping the rewards of giving him a second chance.

Video: BOS@TBL: Bergeron picks up his 1000th career point

But Ruff’s candidacy is just as fleshed out as Montgomery’s. Hired ahead of the 2020-21 season, the 62-year-old has made the Devils’ rebuild a success. New Jersey (16-4-0) is just two points behind the Bruins in the standings, and the team has won 13 straight, tying a franchise record.

“We’re kind of a target right now,” Ruff said Monday. We have to expect the best from every team because we earn respect. You have to deal with that part. But after 19 games, we can’t say we’ve sent a message to the rest of the League. We have to keep playing intense hockey. We need to continue to practice our style of play and prove to the league that our success can continue. »

The Devils haven’t made the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 2017-18 season, but that streak could end this year. Under Ruff, key players in New Jersey’s rebuilding took off. Jack Hughes21, has established himself as one of the NHL’s finest young talents with 77 points in 69 games since the start of the 2021-22 season. Jesper Bratt24, is tied for 13th in NHL scoring (24) and Nico Hischier23, is becoming one of the most complete centers in the League.

Video: NJD@MTL: Hughes takes advantage of a turnover and scores

The Devils are fourth in goals scored average (3.70), second in goals against (2.30) and seventh in shorthanded performance (82.1 percent).

“His way of delivering his message every day drives the team forward,” Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette said. “You can feel his passion. It mixes with his love for his players. He does well with both sides of the coin, that is to say he is demanding, but also stimulating. »

Vegas Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy completes the podium. Fired by the Bruins in June and hired eight days later by Vegas, the 57-year-old allowed his people to bounce back. The Golden Knights (16-4-1) missed out on the playoffs for the first time in club history last season and are second in the NHL overall standings this season, when many saw them as the outside the series portrait again.

Ruff (2006 with the Buffalo Sabers) and Cassidy (2020 with the Bruins) have each won the Jack-Adams once.

Voting results (five points for a first place vote, four points for a second place vote, etc.):

1. Jim Montgomery, Boston Bruins, 44 points (5 first-place votes)
2. Lindy Ruff, New Jersey Devils, 44 (4 first-place votes)
3. Bruce Cassidy, Vegas Golden Knights, 30 (1 first place vote)
4. Rick Bowness, Jets de Winnipeg, 8
é-5. Dave Hakstol, Kraken de Seattle, 7
is-5. Peter DeBoer, Dallas Stars, 7
7. Todd McLellan, Kings de Los Angeles, 3
is-8. Lane Lambert, New York Islanders, 2
is-8. Peter DeBoer, Dallas Stars, 2
is-8. Jared Bednar, Colorado Avalanche, 2
11. Derek Lalonde, Red Wings de Detroit, 1

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