TORONTO (AP) -Only Zdeno Chara and Dion Phaneuf stand in the way of Nicklas Lidstrom winning a sixth Norris Trophy.
The three finalists for the award that goes to the NHL's top defenseman were announced Tuesday. Lidstrom has won the honor five of the past six seasons.
The Detroit Red Wings captain, who earned his ninth career nomination, is tied with Ray Bourque with five Norris Trophies. A sixth would leave him alone in third place behind arguably the two greatest blue-liners ever - Doug Harvey (seven Norris Trophies) and Bobby Orr (eight).
Lidstrom, who turns 38 Monday, led all NHL blue-liners with 70 points (10-60) in 76 games and a sensational plus-40 rating. He also led the Wings to the stingiest defensive record in the NHL this season.
The 31-year-old Chara earned his second nomination. He had a career-high 51 points (17-34) in 77 games for Boston, had a plus-14 rating and was third in ice time among NHL defensemen at 26:50 per game. He was instrumental in helping the Bruins make the playoffs.
Phaneuf also set a career best with 60 points (17-43) in 82 games for the Calgary Flames, fifth among NHL defensemen. The 23-year-old also had a plus-12 rating and played 26:25 a game in only his third NHL season.
The Calder Trophy finalists for rookie of the year will be announced Wednesday.