The National Hockey League announced today that Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, which is presented annually to the top defenseman in the league. Green joins Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom as the three finalists.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters announced as finalists. The winner will be announced Thursday, June 18, during the 2009 NHL Awards Television Special, which will be broadcast live throughout the United States on VERSUS and in Canada on CBC from inside the Pearl Concert Theater in the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas.
Green could become the second Capital to win the Norris trophy and first since Rod Langway won the award in back-to-back years (1982-83, 1983-84). Green’s eight-game goal streak (Jan. 27 to Feb. 14) set a NHL record for a defenseman and matched the longest streak in the NHL since 1997-98 (Teemu Selanne, 11 games). The Calgary, Alberta, native had eight more goals and nine more points than any other defenseman despite missing 14 games due to injury, finishing with 31 goals and 73 points. The Capitals were 20-4-2 when he scored a goal and 33-5-4 when he registered a point.
At 23, Green became the youngest defenseman with 30 goals since Paul Coffey in 1983-84 and had the most goals by an NHL defenseman since former Capitals Kevin Hatcher had 34 in 1992-93. He was just the seventh defenseman in NHL history to score 30 goals in a season and the first to do it while playing fewer than 70 games. He led all defenseman and ranked seventh in the NHL (minimum 20 game played) with 1.07 points per game. His 73 points were the most points by a defenseman in the NHL since 2005-06 (Nicklas Lidstrom, 80).
Green’s 18 power-play goals ranked fourth in the league and set a Capitals record for power-play goals by a defenseman (one shy of the NHL record). Green finished second on the team and tied for fifth among NHL defensemen with a +24 rating.
Green won the “Espo Award” as the best defenseman in the league from Phil Esposito on NHL Home Ice. He was the NHL’s Second Star for the month of February after scoring 20 points in 13 games.
COMMENT: Beating Lidstrom and Chara will be tough and while individual awards are nice, Green would tell you that he would rather win the Stanley Cup than win the Norris Trophy, based on my discussions with him this past year. Green was just on NHL Live on the NHL Network with EJ Hradek and Rob Simpson via telephone and when asked about last night’s game he said that the Caps got away from their simple game plan. In game three he said they dumped the puck in more behind the Rangers defensemen to create scoring chances and they didn’t do that in game four. He also said that the Caps need to get more traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist and stop settling for perimeter shots, no surprise there!
Kudos to the Caps outstanding Media Relations staff of Nate Ewell, Paul Rovnak, Kelly Murray, and Rachel Buck for providing such timely information and access to the team. They make following the club alot easier for the media and, more importantly, for Caps fans.