By Dory LeBlanc
Tuesday night in Las Vegas, the stars of hockey were at the Encore Theater inside the Wynn Hotel and Casino for the 2014 NHL Awards.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were represented well, tied for the Colorado Avalanche with a league-high four nominations. Unfortunately, none of the Bolts will be returning home with any hardware.
Rookies Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat proved in 2014 that Tampa Bay has a bright future ahead as both were Calder Trophy finalists, presented to the NHL's top rookie. The award was presented to Colorado's Nate MacKinnon, last year's No. 1 overall draft pick.
Johnson scored 24 goals to set a Lightning rookie record and tie MacKinnon for the lead among NHL rookies. Johnson also 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).
Ben Bishop, who was 10th in Hart Trophy voting, finished in third place as a Vezina Trophy finalist, as Boston Bruins netminder Tuuka Rask took home the award for the league's top goaltender.
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.
Finally, the Avalanche's Patrick Roy, not Bolts head coach Jon Cooper, was the Jack Adams recipient for coach of the year.
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.
The full list of 2014 NHL Award winners are:
Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player as voted by the players) - Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Selke Trophy (forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game) - Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)
Masterton Trophy (perseverance and dedication to hockey) - Dominic Moore (New York Rangers)
Calder Trophy (top rookie) - Nathan Mackinnon (Colorado Avalanche)
Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion) - Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (goal-scoring leader) - Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
King Clancy Memorial Trophy (for leadership on and off the ice and noteworthy humanitarian contribution to community) - Andrew Ference (Edmonton Oilers)
NHL Foundation Player Award (community service) - Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)
Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone - Dustin Brown (LA Kings)
EA NHL 15 Cover Vote Winner - Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)
Norris Trophy (top defenseman) - Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks)
Jack Adams Award (top head coach) - Patrick Roy (Colorado Avalanche)
William M. Jennings Trophy (goaltender who plays at least 25 games for the club allowing the fewest goals) - Jonathan Quick (LA Kings)
Lady Byng Trophy (player best combining sportsmanship and ability) - Ryan O'Reilly (Colorado Avalanche)
General Manager of the Year - Bob Murray (Anaheim Ducks)
Vezina Trophy (top goaltender) - Tuuka Rask (Boston Bruins)
Hart Trophy (most valuable player to his team) - Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
(Information provided by the Tampa Bay Lightning was used in this post)
Photo: Getty Images