#Selke2Kopitar…or, the article could well be called “The Jack Edwards Challenge.” For clarity, Jack Edwards is the bombastic, entertaining and absurdly over-the-top homer that does play-by-play for the Bahhstin Brewennns. During the Bruins game against the Flyers last Saturday, Edwards blurted out, “If anybody out there is more deserving of the Selke than Patrice Bergeron, I want to see him.” Well, Jack, I’m here to help.
My first kindness will be to assume that your failure to having yet seen a better Selke candidate than Bergeron is due more to ignorance than faulty analysis. Since the real candidate, Anze Kopitar, plays in the West, perhaps Jack you so exhaust yourself in orgiastic exclamation every time a Bruin does something positive that you simply cannot stay up, I mean awake, long enough.
Calling Jack a “homer” is not to say he is “Homeric;” though his quest is true, it is a fools errand. And here is why: Bergeron is actually getting less ice time this season than when he won it in 2010-2011, and meanwhile Kopitar’s season this year is better than both those seasons by Bergeron. A look at the graph below confirms it: (Graph 1)
Even though the NHL defines the Selke candidate as “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game,” we know that scoring enters into the equation. A Selke winner is expected to excel at Offense, too, as the extra threat while Defensively he holds off the opponent’s best scorers.
Kopitar has 65 points, this year. Bergeron has 60 now, and totaled 64 the year he won it.
Kopitar has many more assists than goals, implying success across his line at 25G and 40A. Bergeron is much less a passer, as his goals/assists ratio is nearly even at 28/32 (7/8 yeah yeah yeah).
Kopitar’s plus/minus is 7th at +29; Bergeron is 2nd at +38. Both are excellent, and Bergeron has the edge, and you might say he has that edge with lesser goals so he must really stop the other guys. But in reality, Bergeron benefits from scoring by linemates, scoring that he is not involved with. Also, Bergeron has a different focus on the PK, and his Pk Time On Ice has an impact on this stat, as well.
Let me explain: Boston is one of the highest scoring teams, while also being one of the best defensive teams. They are fighting for 1st in both stats. But, if a team scores a lot of goals across all lines, then the opponent cannot load up against one line defensively and that helps Bergeron. But with Kopitar, he is the #1 Center offensively and everybody knows it. It must be obvious that other teams start their scouting of the Kings with “so who can stop Kopitar?” Nonetheless, Kopitar has outscored Bergeron despite being the obvious target.
The site BehindTheNet rates Quality Of Competition: (linkalicious) It shows Kopitar faces much more difficult competition, as Kopi is ranked a full 40 places above Bergeron, at 60th to Bergeron’s 100th. So, tougher opponents, but does Kopi get more rest?
The answer to that is a resounding NO. Not even close; Kopitar is a Time-On-Ice beast. Bergeron puts out much less work, I mean, a TON less work. Kopi is 8th in total ice time per game, among forwards. Kopitar averages 20:57 per game. Bergeron averages only 18:01 per game, and where Kopitar is 8th Bergeron is 97th. That’s 97th I said. Might be easier to build that plus/minus if you jump off the ice like that…
As well, Kopitar’s impact on his team, which is virtually tied with Boston for allowing the fewest goals per game, has to be a greater impact than Bergeron; Kopi is out there for 21 minutes a game, Bergeron only 18. You might think that Bergeron has an edge, because he generated that plus #38 in less time, but that is faulty reasoning. More ice time means Kopitar is preventing goals for a longer period of time per game, while also facing tougher competition for that longer time per game.
Kopi kills an average of 2:36 per game on PK: Bergeron 1:31. Does PK count as Defensive play? Of course it does. And this is where the Plus/Minus draws closer between Bergeron and Kopitar.
Bergeron has 4 Short Handed Points (SHP) and Kopitar has zero. This gives Bergeron 4 to the Plus, as shorthanded goals are counted for and against, but Power Play goals do not impact the Plus/Minus stat. Bergeron’s focus is allowed to include offensive attack while shorthanded, because he spends much less time in the game and much less time on the PK than Kopi. So, if Bergeron plays 3 minutes less per game, and kills penalties for over a minute less per game, Bergeron can risk the shorthanded attack. Kopi needs to spread and conserve his energy; Bergeron does not.
Kopi spends 1:31 on the Power Play, Bergeron 1:32 per game. The only difference there is total points, with Kopi at 23, Bergeron 11. Same ice time on the PP, more points. Go Kopi.
If being a Defensive expert involves facing the opponent’s scoring lines, and as the Qual Comp showed Kopitar has the more difficult opponents, then the potential is there for mistakes and resulting penalties. In total ice time, all season long added up, Kopitar is 3rd among forwards league-wide with 1,655:04. Bergeron is 54th, with 1406:10 this year (in one less game played). Even so, with almost 250 more minutes played in total, Kopitar has only 24 minutes in penalties; Bergeron has 43. No wonder Bergeron kills fewer penalties; more of them are his own.
Kopitar has 8 Game Winners, that’s tied for 5th in the League. Bergeron has 7.
Kopitar has fewer shots on goal, but a higher shooting percentage and as we said, more total points and more Power Play points.
Bergeron has the advantage in Faceoff Percentage, 58.8 (stellar) and Kopitar is very respectable at 53.4.
Since the 2005-2006 season, the winners were Brind’Amour 2 in a row, Datsyuk 3 in a row, then Kesler, Bergeron and last year, Toews. Below is a chart showing the numbers from their winning years. (Graph 2)
Kopi’s numbers this year are either in line, or ahead, of the previous winners. His ice time is unmatched among winners, and it is important to note that all but one other Selke Award winner played over 20 minutes a night. Bergeron’s 18:01 stands out in stark contrast. Brind’Amour is retired, Toews is injured at the crucial voting time, so is Datsyuk, and Kesler is a minus 17 and will probably miss the playoffs. So, why do I concentrate on Bergeron so much? Partly because I want to set Jack Edwards straight, but mostly because he is the only really viable candidate other than Kopitar.
No, it’s down to 2, and Kopitar is only behind in name-recognition.
So, Jack, now do you see? Have you seen?