Bergeron, Backes, Datsyuk announced as Selke Trophy finalists

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer
The NHL continued to roll out its award finalists on Monday morning by announcing the three finalists for the Selke Trophy, which is given out every year to the best defensive forward in the NHL.

The top-three players: Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit), Patrice Bergeron (Boston) and David Backes (St. Louis).

The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards show on June 20 in Las Vegas.

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Bergeron has been one of the favorites for the award all season and is Boston's go-to forward when it comes to playing tough minutes and going up against top players.

Coach Claude Julien isn't afraid to use him for defensive zone faceoffs, and Bergeron finished the regular season second in the NHL by winning 59.3 percent of his draws. Even though he gets buried in his own end of the ice to start shifts (and against strong competition) he still manages to consistently get the puck out of danger and move it up the ice into the offensive zone. He finished the regular season with the best on-ice Corsi rating (the measure of total shots attempted vs. total shots allowed when a player is on the ice) among forwards in the league. After all, isn't the best defensive play to make sure your opponent is never even able to attempt a shot?

No player in the league is better at this than Bergeron. The only other players in the top-30 in Corsi that started a majority of their shifts in the defensive zone were San Jose's Joe Thornton and Vancouver's Ryan Kesler.

Basically: when Bergeron is playing, opposing teams not only aren't scoring goals, they're not generating any offense at all.

datsyukPavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

A regular at this time of the year. Datsyuk has won the award three of the past four years, and is one of just four players to have won it three times, joining Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau and Jere Lehtinen.

If Datsyuk wins it this year, he will join Gainey as the only player to win four times.

One of the finest examples in the league of a player that can dominate in all areas, Datsyuk plays an incredible two-way game that not only allows him to put up big numbers offensively, but also serve as Detroit's shutdown center playing against the toughest competition on the team every night. Actually, he plays against some of the toughest competition in the entire league, and according to the metrics at BehindtheNet he went up against the 26th toughest opponents in the league this season.

While some players don't often get noticed for what they do defensively, Datsyuk is as flashy without the puck as he is with it.



BackesDavid Backes, St. Louis Blues

It seems appropriate that a St. Louis Blues player would be up for this award given how dominant they were as a team this season defensively, and Backes is certainly one of their best.

Like Bergeron and Datsyuk, Backes gets the lion's share of the tough minutes on his team and often times gets the difficult task of starting out right in front of his own net against another team's top players. And he usually comes out on top against said players.

The one area he really falls behind the other two finalists in is faceoffs, only winning 48.2 percent of his draws this season.

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