- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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DETROIT -- Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron has been named a finalist for the Selke Trophy, the NHL announced Thursday morning.
The Selke is awarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
Bergeron led the NHL in faceoff wins with 1,015, which is the most by any player in the last seven seasons. He also ranked second in the league with a plus-38 rating.
Bergeron won the award in 2012 and was a runner-up to Toews in 2013.
This season, Bergeron reached the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his career, and added 32 assists for 62 points in 80 games.
“It’s definitely a huge honor,” Bergeron said. “It goes to the help of all my teammates, definitely. There’s no individual awards that don’t go without the help of all your teammates, so that’s all I can really say. I have other things on my mind right now, which is the playoffs.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien has worked with Bergeron for the last seven seasons and has seen him develop into one of the best two-way players in the NHL.
“It makes you proud,” Julien said. “He’s well-deserving of that and he has been for years now. He’s always up there in plus/minus. He always plays against top players. He produced 30 goals this year and that’s playing against top lines, so I can’t find a better candidate than him. He certainly deserves the nomination. In our regards, he’s the best.”
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who is in the running to be nominated for the Norris Trophy, believes his teammate should win the Selke.
"I think there's no [surprise] about the nomination," Chara said. "Even before it was announced, a lot of people knew that he would be one of the finalists. [It's] well-deserved; he works really hard on both ends of the ice. He does so many things offensively, defensively that it's nice that he's recognized again. I'm sure he's probably going to be one of the favorites to win it."
Bergeron broke into the league as an 18-year-old rookie and has been an impressive his entire career. He plays the game right and said he’s always trying to improve his game.
“You always try to work on things. I feel like the complete game is something I take a lot of pride in and I’m trying to work on,” Bergeron said. “This year, I obviously got the bounces offensively, but that being said, that doesn’t mean I left the defensive part of the game out. I tried to improve in a lot of areas.”
First-year teammate Loui Eriksson, also considered a top two-way player in the league, said he’s enjoyed playing with Bergeron this season. The two were linemates to start the season, but when Eriksson returned to the lineup after a pair of concussions, he was then put on the team’s third line with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly.
“He’s been unbelievable end to end,” Eriksson said of Bergeron. “It’s impressive.
He scored 30 goals and he’s playing against top lines all the time. There’s a lot of things you can say about him. He’s good at everything and I’m glad to have him on the same team.”
In this series, Bergeron’s line has been matched up against Detroit’s top line with Pavel Datsyuk. Bergeron normally plays against opponents’ top lines because of his ability to play both ends of the ice.
“I’ve always been taught to play the game that way -- both sides of the ice,” Bergeron said. “Growing up playing junior, my coach put a lot of emphasis on that and I tried to work on my faceoffs, as well. I came into the league and guys like Ted Donato, and other older guys that were taking a lot of pride in that aspect of the game, helped me through it. Obviously, with the coaching staff here now, that’s something we put a lot of work on and I’m trying to get better at it.”
Added Bergeron, “That’s the way I want to play the game. It does feel natural for me to play both sides of the ice.”
Opponents respect Bergeron both on and off the ice, and in this series the Red Wings are getting an up-close look at how well he plays. Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith, older brother of Bergeron’s linemate Reilly Smith, has been impressed. Brendan Smith compared Bergeron to Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
“He reminds me of them. He’s so good defensively. He’s so good offensively. He’s above the play. He makes good decisions and he’s a second quick,” Smith said. “He’s strong on the puck and has good reads. You can go through the list with a player like Bergeron. He’s a leader on their squad. Reilly’s told me [Bergeron] helps him out with tidbits all over the place. To have a player like that is huge. He’s a world-class player.”
7dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald