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The Bear Cave


June 19, 2009 7:56 AM

Bruins Go 4-for-4 at NHL Awards Show

Entering Thursday night, the Boston Bruins knew that they would be leaving Las Vegas with at least one award in hand, as Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez had already clinched the William Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed. What they didn't know is that the team's success during the regular season would lead to a perfect night at the 2009 NHL Awards Show. Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas, and Claude Julien all won their respective trophies, giving the Bruins a flawless 4-0 record in awards that they had a chance to win.

As far as the Bruins were concerned, the closest race was the one that most fans anticipated. Zdeno Chara, Mike Green, and Nicklas Lidstrom all put together phenomenal seasons, leading to a tough decision as to who would walk away with the James Norris Trophy. The Norris Trophy is given "to the defense player who demonstrates throughout  the season the greatest all-around ability in the position." The key to this season's victory was the all-around ability. Green and Lidstrom both put together solid offensive seasons, finishing first and third in defensive scoring. Chara also had success in the offensive end, recording 19 goals, 31 assists, and 50 points. However, it was the Boston blueliner's ability to protect his own net that won him this award. Opposing players never liked playing against the Bruins, as they knew that punishment was almost a certainty with Chara on the ice.

Looking at the totals, the Norris Trophy came down to a battle of offense and defense. Nicklas Lidstrom finished in third place with 14 first-place votes and 733 points, while Zdeno Chara and Mike Green were separated by a little more than 50 points. In the end, Chara's 68 first-place votes and 1034 points were good enough to defeat Green, who came away with 50 first-place votes and 982 points. This is Chara's first Norris Trophy in his third nomination.

The Jack Adams Award was the second best race for Boston, as Claude Julien was matched up with Todd McLellan and Andy Murray. This trophy featured a pair of first-place clubs and a team that caught a lot of people by surprise with a late season run. McLellan had the best start to the season, as the Sharks dashed out of the gates with a 25-3-2 mark. Thanks to a 24-2-1 record in November and December, the Bruins were able to keep pace with the Sharks, leading to a tremendous race for the President's Trophy. Murray and the Blues weren't to be outdone, as they turned 15th place into sixth place and made the playoffs out of almost nowhere.

Apparently, the element of surprise was one of the factors in winning the Adams Award, as McLellan finished in third place, picking up nine first-place votes and 98 points. Murray's late season surge gave him second place with 15 first-place votes and 135 points. Of course, that meant Julien was the winner, as his 35 first-place votes and 224 points stole the show. This is the first time that Julien has won the award given "to the head coach who has contributed the most to his team's success."

The Bruins' third award was the Vezina Trophy, and although there were two players separated by just two points, Tim Thomas was not one of them. Steve Mason edged out Niklas Backstrom 33-31 to finish in second place. That left the door open for Thomas, who ran away with 22 first-place votes and 127 total points, knocking off the competition by nearly one hundred points.

The key to Thomas' victory was his phenomenal numbers. Although Thomas was forced to share the crease with Manny Fernandez, the two netminders looked at the situation as a chance to make each other better. When the season came to an end, the Bruins were the only team with fewer than 200 goals allowed, giving Thomas and Fernandez a share in the William Jennings Trophy. Thomas took that one step further, posting 36 wins, a 2.10 goals against average, and a .933 save percentage. The Vezina and Jennings Trophies are both firsts for Thomas, who also earned his first trip to the NHL Awards Show in the process. Fernandez won his second Jennings Trophy, as he shared that same honor with Niklas Backstrom in 2006-07 with the Minnesota Wild.

With the four trophies, the Boston Bruins left Las Vegas with the most hardware in hand, as well as the most variety among team members, as four different parts of the organization were able to take center stage. The Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings finished in second and third with three and two trophies respectively, but Alexander Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk were the lone winners from those squads.

On Thursday, the NHL also announced its two All-Star Teams, as well as the All-Rookie Team. Two members of the Bruins made the list, as Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara each earned first team honors.

Although the year didn't end with the grand prize being handed out in Boston, 2008-09 was certainly a successful season for the Bruins.

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