OTTAWA – It perhaps flew a little bit under the radar amid the Bruins playoff battle with the Ottawa Senators, but Patrice Bergeron has once again been recognized as one of the best defensive players in the NHL. Bergeron was named a finalist for the 2017 Selke Trophy along with fellow centers Ryan Kesler and Mikko Koivu. It marks the sixth straight season that No. 37 will be one of the finalists for the NHL Award.
Bergeron has won previously on three occasions, so a fourth Selke Trophy would have him join Hall of Fame Montreal Canadiens forward Bob Gainey as the only players in NHL history to win the prestigious award four different times in their career. The 2016-17 season certainly wasn’t Bergeron’s best offensive year as he was hampered by a lower body injury in the first half of the season, but that never really impacted his always dependable defensive zone play usually against the other team’s best offensive players, his superior face-off skills where he once again led the league and his penalty killing duties.
For the third consecutive season, Bergeron led the league with 1,812 draws and 1,089 wins, and his 60.1 winning percentage was third among all NHL players this season. Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said that Bergeron is the perfect player for him to use as a teaching tool for the younger guys on the Boston roster, and it’s the positioning, instincts and high motor that all allow him to defend so well.
“I think you see the obvious: The face-offs, the penalty kill and the match-ups,” said Cassidy. “You don’t have a true appreciation for how good his stick is and the angles that he takes to close guys off until you see it up close every day. He just has an uncanny ability to always be on the right side of the puck and get his stick into the passing lanes to close off breakouts.
“You’re constantly teaching some of the young guys how to do it, and this guy just gets it like that. The biggest thing is his hockey IQ with getting his stick into passing lanes and killing off plays. We’re always trying to reinforce with our young guys that you’ve got to find those seams, and he’s just a natural. As it relates to the Selke that’s where I think he’s second-to-none.”
The six straight Selke nominations for Bergeron ties Pavel Datsyuk for the longest such streak in the history of the award since it was introduced into the NHL back in 1978.