By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Is this the year that Patrice Bergeron launches the renaming campaign for the Frank J. Selke Trophy?
Bergeron is a finalist for the league's annual award to its best defensive forward for the eighth consecutive season. He's already won it four times in his first seven tries. This season, he presents another strong case.
No. 37 remains perhaps the best defensive center in the league, as impeccable as ever in his own end. Teams had the 25th fewest shot attempts in the league against Bergeron in the regular season, despite him missing 17 games. And if voters choose the nominee with the most points like they did for Kings center Anze Kopitar in two of the past three seasons, Bergeron wins that too. His 79 points in 65 games beats Ryan O'Reilly's 77 points in 82 games and Mark Stone's 73 in 77.
Realistically, the award will come down to Bergeron and O'Reilly, who's basically Bergeron West for the Blues. Stone is a very good two-way winger but plays a less important defensive position.
It's extremely close in the faceoffs department, but O'Reilly has a slight edge. He beats Bergeron in overall faceoff percentage (56.9 percent to 56.6 percent) and defensive zone faceoff percentage (56.3 percent to 53.9 percent). If that's what voters look at, O'Reilly should eke out the win.
This is easily the closest O'Reilly has come to winning the Selke trophy, despite being one of the league's better two-way centers for most of his career. Ironically, a career-high in points will raise your profile. But the only thing O'Reilly has over Bergeron is that he stayed on the ice longer. We'll see if O'Reilly gets the Lifetime Achievement Selke this year.
If it's not this year, Bergeron will eventually pass Bob Gainey for the most Selke Trophy wins. Gainey won the award for the first four years of its existence. Bergeron took a little longer to get to him, but with a few more elite seasons he could blow by him.
Only a matter of time.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].