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Why Patrice Bergeron Should Win the Selke Trophy: Fan’s Take
Patrice Bergeron is the kind of guy you can't help but like, even if you don't like the Boston Bruins. (I personally know a diehard Montreal Canadiens fan who admits that she likes him. That's just a microcosm of his across-the-board appeal.) He's loyal, having played with Boston for his entire NHL career to date except for the lockout year in 2004-05. Even then, though, he stayed in the organization and played for the Providence Bruins. He's dedicated, having overcome a devastating concussion he suffered in 2007. He's persistent, always trying hard to make plays, see where things are headed and make good things happen. This season, he's consistently performed so well that his performance should be rewarded with the Frank J. Selke Trophy.
The Selke is given to "the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game." That's a little vague, isn't it? That can be construed in many different ways. Neil Greenberg of ESPN Insider tried to clarify it by describing some of the components that can be used to evaluate a player's Selke worthiness. He cited a player's plus-minus rating, the quality of the competition a player faces, the player's puck possession and his ability to help his goalie and defensemen on the penalty kill, among other facets.
Knowing this, let's evaluate Bergeron based on some of these measures. First of all, his plus-minus rating is stellar. As of this writing, he has a +28, second in the entire league, behind only team- and linemate Tyler Seguin. He's played all 60 of Boston's games to date this season, so he's had a lot of time to build up that rating.
Bergeron is often matched up against the opposing team's best competition. Lately in Boston, the forward lines have been juggled a little bit, partly due to injuries and partly due to performance issues. However, the one line that has stayed solid throughout all of these struggles and juggles? The line Bergeron centers alongside Seguin and Brad Marchand. (Except for, you know, Marchand's suspension and Seguin's scratching that one time.) Whenever lines have to change, for whatever reason, John Bishop's tweets about them tend to take the Bergeron line for granted.
This season to date, he's built up some nice point streaks: a seven-game, nine-point streak that began at the end of a lackluster October and continued into the impressive November; a three-game assist streak of four in mid-December; a four-game, seven-game streak in January. Since then, during the team's recent struggles, he continues to try, to make the plays, to read the plays, to put shots on goal, to maybe come out of it with a few points.
While he was recently voted the most underrated player in the league by a selection of his peers, Bergeron's consistently good play is turning heads. In November, at the quarter mark of the season, NHL.com writer Corey Masisak named Bergeron the favorite for the Selke. As cited above, Greenberg also named Bergeron his favorite. NESN's Jack Edwards, of course, is always beating the "Bergeron for Selke" drum, as seen in this tweet from Jan. 4's game against the New Jersey Devils, which was a two-point night for Bergeron. I personally heard Edwards do one of those comedic fake sneezes during Feb. 25's game against Ottawa in which, instead of sneezing, he said "Selke." Keep in mind that it's a poll from the Professional Hockey Writers' Association that decides the winner. Edwards' advocacy may help get the voters' attention.
If it helps any, Bergeron is also rarely seen sitting in the penalty box. He's incurred just 18 penalty minutes this season and has not once dropped the gloves with anyone. Actually, it's been a while since he did that, and by a while I mean since April 18, 2009, in a quick takedown of a fight against Montreal's Josh Gorges that stunned Edwards and Andy Brickley into 30 seconds of silence because it was so unlike him.
Bergeron will continue being a standout player. He's on pace to get 70 points, boost his plus-minus to a +38 and play the rest of the regular-season games. Sure, he already has the biggest prize in the world of hockey, but the way he plays the game is an admirable one and should be recognized with the Selke Trophy.
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