The Boston Bruins might be lay claim to some trophies at the end of the 2019-20 NHL season.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski on Tuesday included three Bruins players — David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask — among the NHL’s awards contenders after the first month of the season. Each of the Bruins trio has made valuable contributions to the team’s strong start, which has Boston in first place in the Atlantic Division and second place in the Eastern Conference after 12 games.
Pastrnak’s 12 goals and 24 points lead the NHL, making his place in Wyshynski’s reckong as a Hart Trophy (for NHL MVP) “finalist” indisputable.
“… (the NHL points lead) belonged to Pastrnak, the burgeoning superstar for the Bruins who was averaging an astounding 2.09 points per game,” Wyshynski wrote. “… But at the moment, it’s a two-horse race for the MVP between (Edmonton Oilers star Connor) McDavid and Pastrnak — unless you believe (Leon) Draisaitl is actually the Oilers’ entry in said race.”
Bergeron has won the Selke Trophy (for best defensive forward) four times since 2012 and is a perrenial favorite for the award. Why should this season be any different for the 34 year-old, whom Wyshynski pegs as the slight favorite.
“Bergeron and (Philadelphia Flyers’ Sean) Couturier are neck-and-neck at this point for the Selke. Both have been tremendous in preventing high-danger chances and passes to the slot,” Wyshynski wrote. “Both are doing their thing on possession, with the Flyers getting 65.38% of the 5-on-5 shot attempts with Couturier on the ice and the Bruins getting 58.70% with Bergeron out there. Couturier has an expected goals against per 60 minutes of 2.09, and Bergeron’s at 1.72.
“… What puts (Bergeron) ahead of Couturier at this point is lizard brain, part deux: Couturier is currently a minus-7. In the past decade of voting, only one player with a minus rating has made the top three: Anze Kopitar in 2015, at a minus-2 with the Kings. Before that, the last time it happened was 2007. So one could get nominated, maybe. But one is not winning the Selke with a minus, per lizard brain rules.”
Rask won the Vezina Trophy (for outstanding goaltender) in 2014, and Wyshynski ranks him as a finalist for the award this season. Here’s why:
“But truth be told: Rask has been the better goalie (than Nashville Predators’ Pekka Rinne),” Wyshynski wrote. “He leads the NHL with 7.65 goals saved above average and is third in expected goals saved above average (3.84). Every one of his six starts has been considered a quality one by that metric. As usual, playing behind the Bruins is its own reward in the eyes of many — witness that 1.48 goals-against average — but that .959 even-strength save percentage is right there with Rinne.”
So there you have it. Although there’s plenty of hockey left to play, Pastrnak, Bergeron and Rask might end the season with a prestigious individual award and they also might lift the biggest prize of them all if they maintain their current form.
Thumbnail photo via James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports Images