BOSTON (CBS) — Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is officially a finalist for this year’s Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman.
Chara, 37, joins Patrice Bergeron (Selke Trophy) and Tuukka Rask (Vezina Trophy) as finalists for three of the NHL’s top awards.
“It’s obviously a huge honor,” Chara said on Monday. “It’s one of those things you’re very proud of. It’s something you need to have the whole team working toward the same direction and working together. It’s a reflection of the whole season, having a strong and steady season as a team and that’s why we have a number of guys nominated, but I’m very humbled. It’s a huge honor to be nominated again.”
The other nominees for the Norris are Chicago’s Duncan Keith and Nashville’s Shea Weber. The three finalists represent the players who received the most votes from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, and the winner will be announced at the NHL Awards on June 24 in Las Vegas.
Chara once again led the Bruins in average time on ice, playing 24:39 per game on a team that allowed the second-fewest goals in the NHL and posted by far the best goal differential at plus-84. Chara posted a plus-25 rating himself, and he scored 17 goals while registering 23 assists. He found new offensive life on the Boston power play, where he set up in front of the net and used his 6-foot-9 frame to score 10 times with the Bruins on the man advantage.
Chara won the award after the 2008-09 season, when he had 19 goals and 31 assists to go with a plus-23 rating.
Keith won the award in 2009-10, before Nicklas Lidstrom won his seventh the following year in what was more of a lifetime achievement award. The award then went to offensive-minded defensemen in the past two years, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Montreal’s P.K. Subban. The award is technically supposed to go to the D-man who demonstrates “the greatest all-round ability in the position,” but Karlsson’s one-way game and Subban being much more of an offensive threat than a sturdy defensive player clearly represented a shift in focus among the voters.
If the trend continues to favor the offensive D-man, Keith (6 goals, 55 assists) and Weber (23 goals, 33 assists) figure to be the favorites for the award. Yet Chara’s sustained run of greatness on the Boston blue line may be enough to have earned him enough votes to take home his second Norris.
When Chara won the award in 2009, he became the first Boston Bruins defenseman to do so since Ray Bourque in 1994, the Hall of Famer’s fifth Norris Trophy. Only Chara, Bourque and Bobby Orr have won the award for the Bruins, with Orr winning eight straight from 1967-1975.
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