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Blackhawks captain Toews sees Selke as 'huge honor'

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- It's not really surprising anymore to see Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews named as a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL's best defensive forward.

That recognition year after year is a major accomplishment in the mind of the 25-year old, who was named a finalist Thursday after winning last season. It's the third time in the past four seasons Toews has been a finalist.

Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar are the other finalists.

"You look at the other two guys, to be in company with those two players is a huge honor, two centermen that were [big] parts of their Stanley Cup-winning teams in the last couple of years," Toews said. "I guess to be compared to those players is what I'm going for as a hockey player. It's a huge accomplishment for me."

Toews finished third in scoring for the Blackhawks with 68 points (28 goals and 40 assists), was second in plus-minus (plus-26) and second in takeaways (51).

He was fifth in the NHL in faceoff percentage (.572), second in the Western Conference with 884 faceoff wins, and missed the final six games of the regular season with an upper-body injury.

Toews has played well in a tough Western Conference First Round series against the St. Louis Blues, which is tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Friday at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, FS-MW, CSN-CH).

Evidence of Toews' talent and leadership were on full display Wednesday at United Center, when the Blackhawks defeated the Blues 4-3 in overtime. Trailing 3-2 late in the third period, Toews' line came up with the game-tying goal by Bryan Bickell with 3:52 left in regulation.

"Special player," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews. "We're very fortunate to have him as our captain. Johnny does his thing. [He] led the way [Wednesday] night when we were down there. That line scores a big goal when time was running out, but defensively [and] offensively, he just plays the right way."

The Selke Trophy was first awarded at the end of the 1977-78 season. Prior Blackhawks winners include Troy Murray (1986), Dirk Graham (1991) and Toews (2013).

The winner, selected by a vote taken by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season, will be announced at the NHL Awards Show on June 24 in Las Vegas, Nev.

"I'm excited," Toews said. "It's an honor. I owe a lot to my teammates for getting recognition like that, so I think for any player to be nominated for an award is always a reflection not only of his own ability but more so the teammates and the linemates he's playing with. [I've] been in a good situation all year, just like last year."

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