For NHL Saturday this weekend, we move on to the third season of four in a row where Les Habitants won the Stanley Cup, and in the prior column, we saw some awards dominance, for sure. With the Montréal Canadiens repeat that performance here in cyberspace? Only time will tell …
This is why we do what we do: Enjoy!
1978 Hart: Guy Lafleur (original, confirmed)
After a record-setting team campaign in 1976-1977, the Habs came back down to earth, notching only 59 victories and 129 points. Montréal right wing Guy Lafleur was the best forward in the NHL again, by almost 3 Point Shares: He came in at 15.81 PS for the top mark in the league, and New York Islanders center Bryan Trottier was next (12.89).
Thus, we readily confirm Lafleur’s Hart vote win (again), as this is his fourth-straight Hart designation from us. The traditional stats—besting his peers in goals (60), points (132), plus/minus rating (73), even-strength goals (45), and game-winning goals (12)—demonstrate he was the best player on the best team, while bringing tremendous value to the Canadiens’ success.
1978 Vezina: Ken Dryden & Michel Larocque (original), Don Edwards (revised)
Once again, the award went to the top goaltenders on the team that gave up the fewest goals, but Montréal goalie Ken Dryden (13.75) was just the third-best netminder based on Point Shares. Besting him this time out were Buffalo Sabres goalie Don Edwards (15.28) and Chicago Black Hawks stalwart Tony Esposito (13.97). With Buffalo posting 105 points in the standings thanks to Edwards’ 72 games in net, we find it easy enough to give him props.
Plus, Dryden started only 52 games, and while he was clearly “better” than Edwards, when a goalie starts 72 games and gets his team to the postseason, you know where the “value” is greater. The Sabres stud won a league-high 38 games with his 2.64 GAA and .906 S%, and he did it without the Canadians’ level of talent in front of him on the ice.
1978 Norris: Denis Potvin (original, confirmed)
The top three defensemen in the NHL were clear cut: New York Islanders blueliner Denis Potvin (15.45 PS), Boston Bruins stalwart Brad Park (13.75), and Montréal’s Larry Robinson (12.46). The Isles won the Patrick Division with 111 points, while the Bruins topped the Adams Division with 113 points. We know how the Canadiens did, of course.
Potvin won the vote, and he was the second-best overall player in the league, behind Lafleur. That’s saying a lot for a defenseman, and while we respect the challenge of Park trying to fill the vacancy left by Bobby Orr, he just wasn’t as good of a player as Potvin during this season. The Isles star didn’t lead the league in any categories, but his all-around stellar play (30G, 64A, plus-57, 81 penalty minutes) brought a lot of value to his team.
1978 Calder: Mike Bossy (original), Don Edwards (revised)
Islanders right wing Mike Bossy (10.5 PS) won the Calder vote, but Edwards was the real rookie of the year. While Bossy scored 91 points and topped the NHL in power-play goals (25), we know Edwards was carrying a much bigger load for a less-talented team.
1978 Conn Smythe: Larry Robinson (original, confirmed)
With Montréal topping Boston in six games to capture Lord Stanley’s Cup, it was Robinson garnering the votes for the Conn Smythe. He notched 21 points in 15 games, which tied for the best on the Canadiens with Lafleur. Dryden was very good once again (12-3, 1.90, .920), albeit not as good as he was in the 1977 postseason.
No one on the Bruins was better than Robinson, so we will confirm this award.