After a Presidents’ Trophy season, the Boston Bruins are keepin’ the hardware train rolling, snagging three individual award nominations since the season’s end.
With Patrice Bergeron nominated for the Selke, Tuukka Rask for the Vezina, and, as of today, Zdeno Chara for the Norris, the question emerges: What are the chances that the hometown boys take the trophy in all three categories?
The B’s have come close to achieving this triumvirate once, with Chara and Tim Thomas winning the Norris and Vezina in 2008-09, and no team has ever claimed all three in a single season. However, given that this year’s Bruins squad was the toast the league with merely 171 goals against (2.09 goals per game) and a plus-87 rating, this year could be an unprecedented sweep of the NHL’s defensive honors.
Chances that Bergeron Wins the Selke
This one is as close to a lock as the categories go. Though Bergeron will see stiff competition from co-nominees Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews, Bergeron’s plus-38 rating and 1,015 faceoff wins (58.6 percent) put him head and shoulders above his competition. Bergy has long been the poster boy for defensive forwards in the NHL, and the judges will more than likely reward his 2013-14 season with the dependable center’s second Selke.
Chances that Rask Wins the Vezina
Rask’s chances at securing his first Vezina are less optimistic. Though he posted 36 wins, a 2.04 GAA, a .930 save percentage, and seven shutouts, Semyon Varlamov and Ben Bishop will benefit from having played for significantly worse teams. Varlamov stopped the most shots in the NHL this year (1,867), backstopping the Avalanche to 41 wins (tops in the NHL) – stats which could position the Russian tendy as the forerunner in this category. Bishop too had more wins than Rask (37) in 63 starts while playing on a worse team, leading his Tampa Bay Lightning to an unlikely playoff berth. To say the field here is crowded is an understatement, but Rask could conceivably pull it out if the judges discount the strength of the team in front of him.
Chances Zdeno Chara Wins the Norris
The Norris, which is supposed to award the best defensive defenseman, has undergone something of a philosophical re-imagining the past few years, with offensive-minded blueliners P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson taking home the trophy in the last two years. 2013-14 nominee Shea Weber led all d-men with 23 goals this season, totaling 56 points, while Chara finished with 17 and Duncan Keith amassed only six. However, Weber finished minus-2, over 20 points below Keith and Chara (plus-22 and plus-25, respectively). Weber also leads the field with hits (169) and blocked shots (173). This, coupled with the persisting idea that the Nashville captain is “due” for a win, all conspire to make this a difficult win for Chara. Of all the trophies, this is the one that a Bruins player is least likely to take home.
Of course, it is still well within the realm of possibility that the Black and Gold could be the belles of awards night. There is no clear-cut favorite in any of the defensive categories, so the decision should be tight in all three races. Hopefully the good will of the judges falls in Boston’s favor, because a defensive season like the one the Bruins had deserves to be recognized.