Now, with the NHL Trade Deadline in the rear-view mirror, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines -- and award winners -- that have developed across the first 900-plus games of the 1,230-game regular season.
Bob Gainey won the Frank J. Selke Trophy the first four times it was awarded, and nobody has won it four times since.
Guy Carbonneau became the second three-time winner, and then Jere Lehtinen became the third. Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk became the fourth member of the three-time Selke winner club in 2010, but can he become only the second person to win it four times?
Datsyuk has a strong case to this point in the season, though knee surgery could keep him from accumulating enough games in the mind of some voters -- just as only playing in 56 games last season surely did. The man who dethroned Datsyuk, Vancouver's Ryan Kesler, also is in the mix. As poorly as this season has gone at the offensive end for Mike Richards and the Los Angeles Kings, his work at the defensive end could land him a trip to Las Vegas.
That said, there's been one name at the top of NHL.com's Selke Trophy tracker to this point in the 2011-12 season, and he's still there at the three-quarter mark of the campaign.
WINNERPATRICE BERGERON, BRUINS
Centre - BOS
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 33 | PTS: 52
SOG: 156 | +/-: +28
The reasons why Bergeron deserves this award remain the same as they've been all season -- he centers the best all-round line in the NHL at even strength. Bergeron and his linemates, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin, all are in the top nine among forwards in the League in advanced-metric website Behind The Net's plus/minus per 60 minutes at even strength statistic. Bergeron has been on the ice for 45 goals scored and only 24 against at 5-on-5 hockey.
He's also plenty valuable in other areas. He entered Monday's games sixth in the NHL in faceoff percentage at 57.6 percent, and he's taken more draws than anyone else in the top 20. He's won the second-most in the League with 695.
Bergeron also is No. 11 among forwards in blocked shots with 56. He's second among the Bruins' regulars on the penalty kill at 4.41 goals against per 60 minutes. When Boston is down a man, he's been on the ice for just seven goals against.
FINALISTSPAVEL DATSYUK, RED WINGS
Centre - DET
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 43 | PTS: 59
SOG: 145 | +/-: +16
Datsyuk's argument is this: His line has been almost as good as Bergeron's, and they've done it against tougher competition. While all three members of Bergeron's line are in the top nine in plus/minus per 60 minutes of even strength, Datsyuk checks in at No. 18 in the League among forwards (linemates Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen are fourth and eighth, respectively). Datsyuk has done so while facing the eighth-toughest competition among forwards with at least 40 games played according to Behind The Net's quality of competition ratings.
The Detroit star entered the week No. 12 in the League in faceoff percentage at 56.1 percent, and he's great in the circle on special teams, winning 56.1 percent of draws on the power play and 55.0 percent shorthanded.
There are two knocks against Datsyuk -- he doesn't play as much shorthanded as Bergeron, and his recovery from knee surgery could leave him short in games played.RYAN KESLER, CANUCKS
Centre - VAN
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 24 | PTS: 43
SOG: 162 | +/-: +16
Kesler is the defending champ, but off-season hip surgery played a role in a slow start for him this season. He's gaining ground, though, and deserves to be in the top three at this point. He's reached the top 25 in plus/minus per 60 minutes at even strength and has been on the ice for only 21 goals-against at even strength.
He's got the best goals-against average per 60 minutes at 4-on-5 of our three finalists -- best among the Canucks' regulars on the penalty kill at 4.02, and he sees the most penalty-kill time per 60 minutes of this trio, as well. He's in the top 25 in the League at faceoff percentage at 54.1 percent, and he's a catalyst for Vancouver's second-ranked power play by winning 60.5 percent of his power-play draws. Kesler's also not far behind Bergeron with 51 blocked shots.