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For this week's latest Trophy Tracker, we take our first look at the top coaching candidates for the Jack Adams Award:
Any early look at the coach of the year contenders has to start with the only undefeated team in the NHL, the 7-0-0 Washington Capitals. Boudreau, who has been under fire since a disappointing end to the playoffs this past spring, has his team cooking on both ends of the ice with an impressive plus-16 goal differential. Pittsburgh (see below) is the only other team with a double-digit plus goal differential. Even without Alex Ovechkin pouring in goals, Boudreau’s Caps are as good a team as there is right now.
No Sidney Crosby yet this season, and no Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik or Zbynek Michalek for periods early on ... no problem for the Pens. Bylsma’s squad continues to contend with adversity without missing a beat, compiling a 7-2-2 record. The Penguins' penalty-kill unit continues to be a thing of wonder, leading the NHL with a 97.1 percent efficiency rating. The power play isn’t too shabby, either, tied for seventh overall. If Bylsma’s squad keeps this up, he will be in line for what would be a rare back-to-back Jack Adams win.
Never mind those preseason predictions that said the Avs would be a lottery team or Sacco was on the hot seat in Denver. The Avs are 6-0-0 on the road and 6-2-0 overall. After a miserable 2010-11 season, Sacco not only kept his job in the face of criticism but also has his young, talented team playing top-notch hockey with the third-best power play and the eighth-best penalty-killing unit in the league. Those kinds of numbers will get you noticed in a hurry.
The Stars' rookie coach also had to persuade his team not to pay any attention to preseason predictions, most of which had Dallas buried in the Western Conference. Looks like whatever Gulutzan said is working -- the Stars are perfect (4-0-0) at home and a conference-best 7-2-0. The Stars also have given up only 17 goals in nine games.
There are high expectations in Los Angeles this season, as the Kings appear poised to follow in the footsteps of young teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago that have quickly matured into champions. The Kings’ 5-2-1 start is certainly good news for Murray, who has been without defensive anchor Drew Doughty because of an upper-body injury. Doughty also missed training camp while he worked out his new contract.
Honorable mentions: Kevin Dineen, Florida; Tom Renney, Edmonton; Ron Wilson, Toronto; Peter Laviolette, Philadelphia.
Bruce Boudreau and the Washington Capitals are off to a 7-0-0 start.