The coach-of-the-year race in the NHL this season promises to be one of the closest in years for a simple reason – the award usually goes to the fellow whose team shows the most surprising improvement from the previous year.
There are three candidates in that category, Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks, Randy Carlyle of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Michel Therrien of the Montreal Canadiens. Their teams finished 25th, 26th and 28th overall, respectively, last season and all are now in solid playoff position. Another category the voters like is coaches who keep their teams in contention despite a series of injuries to their best players. Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators and Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins are your candidates in this regard. Also in the mix might be Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks, who has restored his team to the top of the Western Conference after a relatively disappointing 2011-12 season.