"To the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game"
1) Patrice Bergeron is the clear winner in this category. He’s taken more face offs (1,732) than anybody else in the running for the award, wins those face offs (third in the NHL with a 58.6 percent success rate) finished second in the NHL in plus-minus (plus-38), consistently faces the other team’s best competition, and has a zone start ratio of about 55 percent. He also scored 30 goals for just the second time in his career, and topped 60 points for those that need offensive numbers with their defensive awards. He also would have won last year if a number of Chicago voters didn’t leave him completely off their ballots.
2) Jonathan Toews won 57.2 percent of his 1,544 face offs, finished with a plus-26 and had a respectable 28 goals and 68 points for the Chicago Blackhawks. Like Bergeron, Toews typically lines up against the other team’s best players and shuts them down. His three shorthanded goals and five shorthanded points were among the best in the NHL.
3) Joe Pavelski won 56 percent of his face offs, scored 41 goals for the Sharks, finished nine in the NHL in points and was a respectable plus-23 as a two-way force for San Jose.
4) Anze Kopitar finished tied for fourth in the NHL with a plus-34 rating, and he certainly carried the offensive part of the award with 29 goals and 70 points. But the LA Kings center also has a zone start ratio of about 55 percent, and was a step below both Bergeron and Toews with his 53.3 percent success rate in the face off circle. I’m not sure I understand the trendy movement to try and make him the Selke winner. He’s nowhere close to the two-way forward that Bergeron is.
5) Antoine Vermette finished with a zero plus/minus rating, but also won 56.4 percent of his face offs while playing in all 82 games, scoring three shorthanded goals and finishing with 24 goals and 45 points. But Vermette also started in the offensive zone just 43 percent of the time, and had the highest Relative Corsi Quality of Competition (1.573) for a Phoenix Coyotes center. He clearly faced the opponents’ best players in tough situations each and every night.
Toughest omissions: Sidney Crosby, David Krejci, Joe Thornton.