The truly elite players are the ones who can play -- and excel -- in any situation. The ones who are used not only when their team needs a goal, but also when it needs to prevent a goal.
The St. Louis Blues' David Backes
, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings are just those kind of players, and for that reason they have been named as finalists for this year's Frank J. Selke Trophy, an annual award given "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game."
The winner is selected by a vote of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, and will be announced at the 2012 NHL Awards Show, June 20 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.
Center - STL
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 5 | +/-: -3
Besides his team-high totals of 24 goals and 54 points, Backes led Blues forwards with an average ice time of 19:59 while posting a plus-15 rating. He started just 46 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, the second-fewest of any Blues forward who played at least 10 games, but finished 52.4 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, meaning he was able to turn defense into offense better than any player on the team.
Backes also led all NHL forwards in advanced metrics website Behind the Net's Quality of Competition rating, meaning the players he skated against had the highest average plus/minus rating.
He led the team with 226 hits and all Blues forwards with 72 blocked shots, while his 50 takeaways were second on the team. He won just 48.6 percent of his faceoffs, but took the most on the team at 1,353.
The Blues were the League's best defensive team, allowing just 1.60 goals per game. Much of that had to do with goaltending, but the team allowed a League-low 26.7 shots per game, meaning skaters like Backes had a big role in that defensive excellence.
Former Blues captain Rick Meagher won the only Selke Award in franchise history in 1990.
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to see comments from Backes and Hitchcock.