The NHL has hit the mid-way point of the season and while nothing has been determined yet (of course), there are several coaches who seems to have made quite a difference to their teams so far this year. That bodes the question of which coach is leading the Jack Adams’ race at this point?
Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet has needed a couple of years to get the team in a position to take the Coyotes back to the playoffs, but the 2019-20 season seems to be the year that Arizona is likely to make the playoffs. Often considered a bottom-feeder in the Pacific Division, Arizona finds themselves in second place in the Pacific, only behind the Vegas Golden Knights. However, with offensive additions of Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall, as well as the healthy return of Nick Schmaltz, a solid defense and an impressive goaltending tandem of Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, the Coyotes are now for real. Tocchet has had a lot to do with that, putting defense first and now developing an offensive game to compete a solid team.
It might seem unlikely, but the 2018-19 Jack Adams Award winner, Barry Trotz, could win the award for a second straight year. After last season’s impressive run, the New York Islanders were predicted to fall back to mediocrity as many felt that New York wouldn’t be able to surprise teams as easily this year with their impressive season and in a battlefield in the Metropolitan Division, there was no way the Islanders could continue to find themselves at the top of the division. Instead, the Trotz has the Islanders back in the thick of the playoffs in a tie for second place as the team’s offense continues to improve. Only the dominant Washington Capitals stand in their way.
One other significant surprise would be the coaching of Mike Sullivan, who has somehow managed to keep his team in the playoff hunt as they are tied with those Islanders in that second-place tie in the Metro. The Penguins are almost playing on a skeleton roster with the number of injuries, which includes playing large stretches of games without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Bjugstad, Bryan Rust, Alex Galchenyuk, Kris Letang, Justin Schultz and Brian Dumoulin. Yet regardless, Sullivan had the team playing well even with multiple players from their AHL affiliate in the lineup almost on a daily basis.
Of course, it’s still early and much could change, but who is the leading candidate for the Jack Adams?
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