Unless you’re living under a rock, or perhaps a committed ESPN viewer, you already know the Stanley Cup Final starts today. The Cup won’t be the only trophy on the line come puck drop on Wednesday; two of the finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy will take to the ice during the Finals: Jonathan Toews, and Patrice Bergeron.
The Selke Trophy is awarded annually, to “ the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.” This year’s finalists, who were announced one May 15th, were Toews, Bergeron, and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings. Bergeron is the current holder of the trophy, his first, and Datsyuk is tied for second all-time with three Selke nods. Jonathan Toews is getting his second Selke nomination, the other coming in 2011, where he was runner-up to Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler.
Bergeron was the NHL’s best in the faceoff dot in 2012-13, with a powerful 62.1% faceoff percentage. Bergeron spends time on the first penalty kill and power-play units for the Bruins,with an average of 2:12 a game shorthanded, and 2:10 a game on the man-advantage, during the regular season. He also led Boston in plus-minus, with a +24 rating that was good for 6th overall league-wide. Bergeron is always found skating hard, both ways, and has an offensive touch that he has rekindled in the playoffs, scoring 5 goals and adding 6 assists in 16 games so far. The Blackhawks will focus a lot of time and energy into containing Bergeron in this series, as well as line-mate Brad Marchand, as they are one of the league’s most dangerous duos. Bergeron is a leader on this Boston squad, and he, like Toews, leads by example. One of the most focused players in the league, Bergeron will not be deterred on his quest to bring the Bruins the Cup once again.
Lots have been said about Jonathan Toews, and he is always in the conversation when talk arises of the NHL’s best players. He did nothing but bolster that opinion, with a marvellous regular season in 2012-2013, leading the Blackhawks to their first President’s trophy in over 20 years. He notched 48 points in 47 games, putting him second on the team behind Patrick Kane. He set a new career-high in plus-minus, leading the Blackhawks at +28. Among the stats were a league-lead in takeaways, (56) and a 59.9% faceoff percentage that was runner-up to Bergeron’s. Toews made an appearance as the second PK unit center, helping the Blackhawks to a remarkable 87.2% penalty kill. Toews was also a big part of the Blackhawks first-ranked team defense, at 2.02 goals against/game. As it always is with Toews, stats don’t do the star justice, and one will have to witness the skill and dedication first-hand. Toews work ethic shows night in, and night out, and that is a big reason why he is the favourite to get his first Selke nod.
The Selke trophy is not the silverware that Bergeron or Toews will be focused on during this series, but it will be an interesting match-up to watch, especially on the special teams where they both make an appearance. If Joel Quenneville or Claude Julien ever happen to match power-against-power, these two will most likely be on the ice, and it will be fun to watch two of the league’s best battle it out mano a mano.
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