Patrice Bergeron and the Boston Bruins finally have some good news radiating out of TD Garden.
— Naoko (@NaokoFunayama) April 22, 2015
The 29-year-old received word on Wednesday morning that he is a finalist to receive the Selke Trophy, given to the National Hockey League’s best defensive forward. It is the fourth consecutive season he has been nominated for this prestigious honor. Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar will join Bergeron as the three Selke finalists at the NHL Awards ceremony on June 24 in Las Vegas.
Bergeron was very gracious of being named a finalist in his press conference with the media.
“It’s definitely another huge honor. It speaks about the way your team helps you, and the way that you try to play the game. For me I take a lot of pride in my two-way game, so it’s definitely an honor to be nominated with guys like Anze and Jonathan.”
The alternate captain was appreciative of the Selke nomination, but expressed he “would rather be in the playoffs right now”. It is hard to find anyone who would put the blame on Bergeron for the club missing the postseason…except for maybe himself.
Boston’s two-way center has the opportunity to join a club four other NHL players are a part of. Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Jere Lehtinen, and Pavel Datsyuk have all won the Selke Trophy three times since the award was first handed out in 1978. Other than Steve Kasper (1981-82), Bergeron is the only Bruins forward to win the Selke. It would be a well deserved recognition for the Canadian forward who has become one of (if not the best) two-way player(s) in the game.
Bergeron’s statistics are not as attractive compared to his fellow Selke finalists. Boston’s second-round pick in 2003 registered 23 goals and 55 points this season, his lowest in a full 82-game season since 2009-10 when he scored 52.
Toews scored 28 goals and 66 points for the Chicago Blackhawks while registering a plus-30 rating on the year.
Kopitar tallied 16 goals and 64 points for an offensively challenged Los Angeles Kings squad that, along with the Bruins, missed out on postseason hockey this year.
Beyond the Basics
Where Bergeron makes up for the disparity in points is his impeccable work in the faceoff circle.
“It was definitely a first this year with the amount of face-offs that I was taking. I wouldn’t say overall, but more in the defensive zone I was taking a lot and really starting a lot of my shifts there.”
The Bruins’ future captain led the NHL in faceoffs taken (1,951), faceoffs won (1,175), and faceoff percentage (60.2). It is all the more impressive to note that Bergeron started close to 53-percent of his even-strength shifts in the defensive zone this season, according to Hockey Reference.
In a league where possession statistics are now the norm, the durable forward proved his worth by winning faceoffs to possess the puck instead of starting his shift chasing it.
Bergeron’s five-on-five Corsi numbers were impressive as well. As a reminder, Corsi takes into account all shot attempts for and against when a player is on the ice. He had the highest Corsi percentage (58.2) amongst the three Selke finalists this season, furthermore proving his faceoff wins led to more scoring opportunities for his team.
Why All The Statistics?
Some argue that offensive point totals play a larger role in the distribution of NHL Awards than they should. The Selke Trophy would seem to be the last of the major awards where offensive numbers have little bearing on its recipient.
Bergeron’s 55 points do not tell the story regarding the 2014-15 season. Fans in Boston have learned to appreciate the two-way nature of Bergeron’s game. His contributions in the defensive zone are not recognized on the score sheet. It is the prime scoring chances his defense prevents that sometimes outweigh the points Bergeron scores in the offensive end.
If we based NHL players' talent on how many Cups a player has won, Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby are equals. PS: Bergeron is better.
— Matt 💚♌️ #BlackLivesMatter (@findmyway37) April 19, 2015
This season, a new age has dawned in NHL numbers. The focus on possession stats like Corsi, Fenwick, Zone Start Percentage, and so on has given fans who appreciate the defensive side of the game tangible statistics to chew on. It also sheds new light on just how important Bergeron is to the Bruins. A warrior who played in a Stanley Cup Final with a punctured lung two years ago is now among the NHL’s elite two-way players.
Patrice Bergeron’s Selke Trophy nomination is a ray of sunshine in a very dark season for the Boston Bruins. Causeway Street’s Jack-of-all-trades could be two months away from a hat trick of Selke Trophy silverware.
Joe is a writer covering the Boston Bruins. He is a lifelong native of Massachusetts and is currently a content writer/manager for a newsletter at a Human Services Agency. Joe can be found on Twitter: @JoeCherryTHW