Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 Norris Trophy Finalists

I'm a big fan of the idea for an award for the most offensive blueliner, which would probably make for a more justified mention for some great defensemen in the NHL, especially for us poolies that like our points. I'm going to measure the Norris Trophy finalists by their points, but that shouldn't really be taken into account for voting purposes. Defensemen have to take care of their own end, as much or if not more, than helping out the offense.

Leading the way in points for the three finalists, Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings.  Lidstrom may not have had the defensive numbers that you may look for in a defenseman, but he was a rock on the blueline, yet again, for Detroit, which makes him an easy finalist for the trophy.  Lidstrom finished 2nd in points among blueliners with 62 in all 82 games and Detroit is thanking their lucky stars that he will return for the 2012 season.

It may have taken a while, but it looks like Shea Weber is finally getting the recognition he deserves as one of the elite defensemen in the NHL. Weber is a punishing defenseman, both offensively and defensively, providing ample support to the Predators goaltending, which was also very good, likely walking hand-in-hand. Weber was 10th among defensemen in scoring, picking up 48 points in all 82 games and should continue to be a valuable member of the Nashville organization for years to come.

If the voting was to have taken place after the playoffs, it would be hard not to say that Zdeno Chara would be in prime contention for his second Norris Trophy, but even if you were to take out the playoffs, Chara had an excellent year with the Bruins.  Chara had the best plus/minus of the three finalists and finished 19th in scoring among blueliners with 44 points in 81 games.  The Bruins were a solid unit through the 2011 season and Chara helped lead the way, mostly by example.

With three solid candidates to choose from, it's kind of surprising to me how easy it is to pick Chara over the other two.  The all-around presence of the big man is undeniable and very easy to put into perspective, when looking at a lot of the other top defensemen in the league.  He punishes the opposition at almost every point on the ice and he gives his team a great chance to win every night.

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