Shea Weber

Chara, Keith and Weber are this year’s Norris Trophy finalists


Boston’s Zdeno Chara, Chicago’s Duncan Keith, and Nashville’s Shea Weber are the three finalists for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.


Chara…averaged a team-high 24:39 of ice time per game, nearly 3 minutes more than the next-closest player, and also placed in the top 10 among NHL defensemen in goals (17), plus/minus (+25), power-play goals (10) and game-winning goals (3). 

Keith led all defensemen with 55 assists and ranked second among blueliners with 61 points to power a Chicago offense that paced the NHL with 267 goals.

Weber ranked first among defensemen with 23 goals and set a franchise record for points by a blueliner with 56, leading the Predators in scoring for the second consecutive season. 

Of the three, Weber is the only one who’s yet to win the award. Chara won in 2009; Keith in 2010.

The last two recipients, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Montreal’s PK Subban, also had strong seasons, with the former leading all d-men with 74 points. However, both finished as minus players (Karlsson -15, Subban -4), which despite the dubiousness of that statistic may have hurt their chances with Professional Hockey Writers’ Association voters. (Ottawa’s poor season as a team wouldn’t have helped Karlsson either.)

Weber also finished as a minus player (-2) on a Predators team that didn’t make the playoffs, which could hurt his chances. That said, Nicklas Lidstrom won the award in 2011 with a minus-2 rating, so voters have been able to look past plus/minus before.

As for some so-called snubs…

— Minnesota’s Ryan Suter led the NHL in total ice time, averaging almost 30 minutes a game, while scoring more points than Chara’s 40, with 43.

— Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman had the third-most even-strength points (35), behind only Karlsson (43) and Keith (39).

— Calgary’s Mark Giordano was a favorite of the advanced stats community, with a 53.3% Corsi on a rebuilding Flames team that had poor overall possession numbers.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?