Lightning up for awards Tuesday night in Las Vegas
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning will be well-represented at the 2014 NHL Awards Show Tuesday night at the Encore Theater inside the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (7 p.m., NBCSN). Lightning nominees include Jon Cooper (Jack Adams Trophy, coach of the year), Ben Bishop (Vezina Trophy, goaltender of the year), Tyler Johnson (Calder Trophy, rookie of the year) and Ondrej Palat (Calder Trophy, rookie of the year). Tampa Bay’s four nominations are the most since the 2003-04 season.
In his first full season behind the bench, Cooper guided Tampa Bay (46-27-9, 101 points) to a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division after the club placed 28th in the overall league standings in 2012-13. The coach of Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate in Norfolk when it captured the 2012 Calder Cup, Cooper successfully incorporated several young players into the Lightning lineup, as a league-high eight rookies appeared in at least 40 games -- five more than any other club. The Lightning were 20-11-9 in one-goal games after ranking last in the NHL with a 5-12-4 mark the season before, and posted 21 road wins, one shy of the franchise record.
Bishop set multiple franchise records in backstopping the Lightning to a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division in his first season as a starter. He became the Lightning's all-time leader for wins in a season with his 31st on March 15 against the New Jersey Devils and finished the season ranked fourth in the NHL with 37. Bishop also set a franchise mark in save percentage (.924). He tied for fourth in the League for shutouts (five) and placed seventh in goals-against average (2.23). Bishop is a Vezina Trophy finalist for the first time and the first Lightning nominee for the award since Daren Puppa placed third in 1996.
Johnson scored 24 goals to set a Lightning rookie record and tie Nathan MacKinnon for the lead among NHL rookies. He tied for the overall League lead in shorthanded goals (five) and tallied five power-play goals, becoming the second rookie in NHL history to record five of each in one season (Dennis Maruk, 1975-76). Johnson also led all rookies in total ice time (1,540:20) and face-offs (1,275). Signed as a free agent by Tampa Bay in March 2011, Johnson is the first undrafted Calder finalist since Chicago goaltender Ed Belfour took top honors in 1991.
Palat ranked second among rookie scorers with 23-36--59, three points shy of Brad Richards' Lightning rookie record of 62 points in 2000-01. Palat was the League's top rookie threat over the second half of the season, leading all first-year players in scoring after January 1 (17-27--44 in 42 GP, including 14 multiple-point games) and earning NHL Rookie of the Month honors for January and March. He posted an eight-game point streak from Dec. 23-Jan. 9, the longest ever by a Lightning rookie, and led all first-year players in plus-minus (+32).