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Selke would be nice, but Kesler's chasing Stanley

by Dan Rosen
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Ryan Kesler won't admit it publicly, but you the feeling that after being nominated twice before, the Canucks center wants to win the Selke Trophy in a pretty bad way this year.

He was edged by three-time Selke winner Pavel Datsyuk by one first-place vote and 33 total points last season in the closest vote of the 2010 NHL Awards.

Ironically, Kesler may have his best shot to win the defensive award after becoming a more offensive threat than ever before. He scored 41 goals for the Canucks, helping them to the Presidents' Trophy with 117 points, but if you saw his performance on the other end in the recently completed seven-game series against Chicago you understand why he's a Selke finalist for the third straight year.

Kesler was matched up against Jonathan Toews for most of the series, and he held the Blackhawks' captain without an even-strength point. Toews scored the game-tying shorthanded goal late in Game 7, but Kesler was not on the ice.

However, these trophies are doled out for regular season success, and Kesler was darn good then, too. He won 57.4 percent of his faceoffs and was a plus-19. He also scored three shorthanded goals and led all Canucks forwards with 80 blocked shots and the entire team with 65 takeaways.

Kesler took time Wednesday afternoon to talk with and NHL Network about being a Selke finalist:

Q: It's your third consecutive year going after the Selke, but you increased your offense this year and maintained that balance. How do you stay so balanced with offense and defense?

I came into this League being a defensive forward and grown into the offensive side of my game. Really, I take pride in it. It's hard work to be able to do both, and I've really taken pride in my defensive game. That will never leave me.

Q: This is an award that preaches fundamentals of the game. That's really what it comes down to. How much would winning this award mean because of that?

It would mean a lot, but as of right now we're focused on one trophy and you know what that is. At the end of the day it would definitely nice to finally win it.

Q: Datsyuk is always up for this award. You play against him, so what is it about this guy that puts him up for the award every year?

He's a great player. He works extremely hard and that's what you need to do to be successful. He's so skilled, but he works hard, he's the first guy back. I think that's why he's up for the award every year.

Q: And you just got finished playing against the other guy up for the award, Jonathan Toews. Describe his game after seeing it up close for seven games?

Obviously he's a great player, and for me it was a big challenge to keep him off the board and it was rewarding to keep him off the board. He's a great player in his own right and I've got a lot of respect for him.

Q: Is this something personally you really want, this Selke? You want a team trophy, obviously, but getting an individual award would have to mean something special to you, right?

There's only one trophy I want right now. We'll worry about the other one in the summer.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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