This weekend marks the three-quarter point of the 2010-11 regular season.
As we hit the quarter pole, NHL.com takes a comprehensive look at where things stand. Certainly, the New Jersey Devils have been the main story line of the past month, making an unprecedented run at an unexpected playoff berth. But, there are also six other storylines that merit your attention in the final two months of the season. Also, we look at potential candidates for each of the major NHL Awards in our on-going Trophy Tracker features. Finally, we have updated our fantasy rankings as we head into the final 20-game portion of the regular season.
"The Frank J. Selke Trophy is an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game."
Pretty straightforward wording to determine who wins the award, right?
The only problem for those who have to pick the player who deserves the trophy is deciding what constitutes good defense. Is it takeaways? Is it plus-minus? Can't we just add the two numbers and give the award to that guy?
There might not be a more subjective award that's handed out by the NHL.
For me, there are three very important components to how good a player is defensively:
1. Is the player consistently matched up against the best offensive players on the opposing team and does he hold them off the scoreboard?
2. Does the player excel when his team is shorthanded, the time when a coach wants his best defenders on the ice?
3. Is the player an asset when it comes to blocking shots and taking away the puck?
Other criteria like shorthanded goals and plus-minus involve defense as a component, but the player's offensive ability can also play a large role in piling up numbers in those categories. It's not that those categories should be ignored, but they aren't as important as the other statistics.
That's why I'm taking Vancouver's Manny Malhotra as the Selke winner at this point in the season with teammate Ryan Kesler and Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron as the other two finalists.