Q: Who are your picks for the top awards?
— Chris Middleton from Eden Prairie, Minn.
A: I'm going with Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for both the Hart (MVP) and the Vezina (top netminder). With even average netminding the Coyotes might have missed the playoffs. All in all, a tremendous season for a goalie the Ducks once had to give away.
April 11, 2010: While Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are perennial MVP candidates, goalies Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov are also contenders.
Calder (rookie of the year): Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers. Exceptional agility for such a big kid. Fit seamlessly and impressively into the Sabres back line.
Norris (top defenseman): The Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom. Forget about where he finished in points. Turns age 40 in late April and he remains the gold standard along the blue line.
Selke (best defensive forward): Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk. Also was the only Russian forward to play any defense at the Olympics.
Lady Byng (most gentlemanly): Ducks forward Teemu Selanne. Hope the honor convinces him to hang around at least one more year.
Jack Adams (best coach): The Coyotes' Dave Tippett. Talk about making chicken salad out of chicken spit.
Executive of the Year: Coyotes GM Don Maloney. You may now return to the Rangers front office.
Q: Which non-playoff team has the best chance to turn things around next season?
— Larry from Mich.
A: I'm going with the Leafs, Larry, because I saw them play a lot of good games this season, only to see them lose, especially in the first half, because of bad goals — and bad goaltending. The net will be improved next season with an experienced Jonas Gustavsson pairing with veteran J-S Giguere from the start.
Also, you'll see GM Brian Burke swap defenseman Tomas Kaberle for a top six forward who will help bolster the scoring. Figure them for a seventh or eighth seed in the East.
PHT: Tuukka Rask has frustrated the Blackhawks to the tune of a 1.22 GAA and .959 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Final. Can Chicago find any luck in Game 4?
April 11, 2010: Mike Milbury says the top playoff storylines to watch will be the San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Video: NHL from NBC Sports
Rask credits a team effort on defense
Without the need for an overtime period, the Bruins won Game 3 over the Blackhawks, 2-0. Bruins coach Claude Julien credits Tuukka Rask for his preparation and extreme focus, while Rask appreciates the guys in front of him covering their ice and blocking shots.
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