Photo credits–Backes: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE. Bergeron: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE. Datsyuk: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE. Campbell: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE. Eberle: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE. Moulson: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE.
The NHL continues to gradually roll out its list of award finalists and today there are twin announcements for the Selke and Lady Byng Trophies. Both of these will be presented at the NHL Awards on June 20.
The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game”–to put it simpler, the best two-way forward. The winner is selected by a Professional Hockey Writers Association vote and the nominees are:
Backes, the captain of the Blues, led the team in goals (24), points (54), hits (226), blocked shots (72) and average ice time (19:59). He is a leader in many ways, clearly. Behind the Net, a statistician’s dream of a website, ranked Backes first in the league in terms of quality of competition. This means he was often paired against players with high plus/minus ratings–although his +15 isn’t so bad either. St. Louis was a stingy team in the regular season, allowing only 1.60 goals per game, and while part of this was due to their great goaltending, defensive forwards like Backes also played a role.
Bergeron, the alternate captain of the Bruins, finished second on the team for points (64). He excels at taking faceoffs, winning 59.3 percent of them, which is good for second in the entire league. When the Bruins are killing a penalty, look for Bergeron on the ice (because with just 20 penalty minutes, it’s not likely he’s the one in the box): he leads all Bruins forwards in shorthanded ice time and does well taking draws at that time too. He played an average of 18:34 a game, led his team for blocked shots (67) and takeaways (55) and led the entire league in plus-minus (+36).
Datsyuk, the three-time Selke winner and alternate captain for the Red Wings, scored at least 65 points this season, his seventh such productive season in the last eight years. Like Bergeron, he is often on the dot: he won 56.2 percent of his faceoffs, tenth in the league. Often announcers joke about Datsyuk’s thievery skills with the puck and the numbers back that up–he has 97 takeaways, third in the league. He plays about 19:34 a game, including a lot of shorthanded time, and has a +21 rating and 14 penalty minutes.
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded to “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”–in short, a good sport. The winner for this one is also selected by the PHWA. The nominees are:
Campbell, the Panthers’ alternate captain, played all 82 games for the Panthers and went to the All-Star Game too. A defenseman, he finished second among blueliners with 49 assists and 53 points. He had 2,354 shifts in the regular season and took a penalty in just three of them–no penalties at all in the last 25 games and just one after the All-Star break.
Eberle slashed his penalty minutes from 22 in his rookie season to 10 this season. As a result of trimming the fat, his offense increased: career-highs in goals (34), assists (42), points (76) and goals on the power play (10). He went 31 games between penalties, not sitting in the box for about three months between January and April.
Moulson also amassed just three penalties this season, his last one coming at the end of 2011. So, he had a lot of time to perform, and so he did–36 goals, 33 assists, 69 points. He and Eberle both scored more than 30 goals this season while spending less than 10 minutes in the bin, but Moulson had only six minutes total. Yes, six.
Next up on the gradual award announcements: the Masterton Trophy, to be announced April 24.