A year ago, Boston’s Patrice Bergeron was just shy of being nominated as one of the three Selke Trophy finalists, which goes to the NHL’s top defensive forward. This time around, Bergeron might nab the award.
The contest for the Selke Trophy is a bit unique in the sense that the statistics associated with success defensively are a bit more obscure and, in some cases, in dispute. For example, the value of a player’s plus/minus rating is open to debate. With that in mind, a forward’s reputation for doing all the little things necessary to help his team win is important. That’s something Bergeron has working for him.
In addition to finishing fourth in voting last season, Bergeron is having a great season both with and without the puck. He leads the league in faceoff wins and has a stunning 59.5% success rate on the draw. On top of that he has 61 points in 79 games, which might not directly factor into the award, but it does help him get the voters’ attention in the first place.
“With our system there’s no blowout out of the zone or cheating. He’s often the last one of the defensive zone, or the second-to-last one out,” said teammate Chris Kelly. “But he still manages to create a lot of offense in the system. It’s a lot of skating. He’s working every single night. It’s not like there are easy nights where he’s cheating like some other guys in the league do that recognized a little more for their offensive numbers.”
It’s also worth noting that two of last season’s three finalists, Jonathan Toews and Pavel Datsyuk, have missed a significant amount of time due to injuries this season. Meanwhile, 2010-11 award winner, Ryan Kesler, is having something of an off season by his standards. There are other worthy candidates, but Bergeron certainly seems to be in a good position to claim the award.
It’s been another successful spring for Tyler Johnson.
Johnson, the most diminutive member of Tampa Bay’s vaunted “Triplets” line, is racking up the playoff points yet again. He has 17 through 16 games — tied with Joe Thornton for sixth-most in the postseason — and, depending on how far the Bolts go this year, could best last year’s total, when he had 23 in 24.
Not bad, considering the physical pounding Johnson has taken.
At just 5-foot-9 and 182 pounds, the playoff grind has certainly taken its toll over the last two years. Johnson was rendered all but ineffective in last year’s Cup Final versus Chicago due to a broken right wrist and, this year, dealt with an upper-body injury in the opening round and a puck to the face just prior to Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Not that it slowed him down any.
Johnson scored the game-winning OT tally in Game 4, getting his body in front of a Jason Garrison shot to deflect home past Marc-Andre Fleury. That earned high praise from Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, who heaped superlatives on his undersized star.
“He’s a winner — that’s what winners do,” coach Jon Cooper said of Johnson, per the Tampa Bay Times. “They don’t back down. And when there’s a challenge ahead of you, you’ve got to find a way to meet the challenge. There’s a lot of coaches that had a front row seat to see how this kid plays and how he competes.
“And it’s not always the size of the player, it’s the size of the heart, and that’s Tyler Johnson.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday to force a Game 7, now the St. Louis Blues will try to do the same against the San Jose Sharks tonight. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
St. Louis at San Jose (9:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. If you want to stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
In the meantime, here are some relevant links:
On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott
The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko
Feeding frenzy: Sharks send Blues to the brink of elimination in Western Conference Final
Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday
After establishing himself in the Swedish league, Anton Lindholm will head to North America.
The Colorado Avalanche announced that they have signed the 21-year-old defenseman to a three-year, entry-level contract. They selected Lindholm in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
More of a defensive defenseman, Lindholm only registered four assists in 30 Swedish league games with Skelleftea AIK in 2015-16, but he also had a team-high 85 hits despite missing a chunk of the season due to injury. During the playoffs he helped his team reach the SHL Finals by leading them in both hits and blocked shots.
That was his second full campaign with Skelleftea AIK. The next step for Lindholm will likely be for him to continue his development in the AHL.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Bob McKenzie shares his memories of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, who apparently was a big hockey fan. (TSN)
Don Cherry discusses John Brophy’s toughness after the former Leafs coach recently passed away. (Sportsnet)
A look at Vincent Lecavalier‘s career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)
The perils of flip-flopping goalies in the playoffs … although it worked out for the Penguins at least last night. (The Hockey News)
Speaking of which, will the Blues get burned for switching back to Brian Elliott in Game 6 tonight? Here’s a preview:
Sidney Crosby has a chance to join a very rare club of clutch goal-scorers if he can win it for Pittsburgh in Game 7: