Francis Bouillon #55 of the Montreal Canadiens dives for the puck in front of Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins in the third period during the game on March 27, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
(March 26, 2013 - Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)

Datsyuk, Bergeron, Toews are the Selke nominees

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The NHL has announced that the battle for the Frank J. Selke Trophy has come down to Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews.

The award recognizes the NHL’s top defensive forward.

Datsyuk won the award three consecutive years between 2008-10, but his streak was broken in 2010–11 when he was limited to 56 games. To date only one player, Bob Gainey, has won the four times, but Datsyuk has put forward a strong case this year. Datsyuk averaged 20:10 minutes per game and finished with a plus-21 rating.

Although plus/minus doesn’t usually hold a lot of weight, keep in mind that only two other Red Wings players had plus/minus ratings in the positive double-digits and neither approached his total. If you want to dive into advanced stats, Datsyuk skated against 19th-toughest competition in the league among forwards that participated in at least 30 contests. None of forwards ahead of him on that list did any better than a plus-seven rating.

Datsyuk also tied fellow nominee Toews for the league-lead in takeaways with 56.

Bergeron won the Selke Trophy for the first time last year. He led the Bruins with a plus-24 rating and was second among Boston forwards with an averaged 2:12 shorthanded minutes per contest. Boston ranked fourth in the NHL with a 87.1 penalty-killing percentage.

He came up big on the draw when the Bruins were down a man, but faceoffs in general are his bread-and-butter. He led the league with a dominating 62.1 faceoff percentage.

Toews, from a statistical perspective was sort of a mesh between Bergeron and Datsyuk. Toews takeaway numbers were already touched on, but he also ranked second in the NHL with a 59.9 faceoff percentage. He also finished third in the NHL with a plus-28 rating, but what was more impressive was his plus-21 rating on the road. That’s the best any has done since 2009-10.

Toews is also the only player among the finalists to finish the season with a plus/minus ratio over 20 and at least 20 goals.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.