The St. Louis Blues exit from the 2020 NHL Playoffs was enough of a sting. The league’s writers rubbed salt in the wound with an awards snub.
The St. Louis Blues are already looking toward the 2020-21 season. They will hope to use the disappointment and bitter taste in their mouth from the 2020 playoffs exit to fuel their fire.
While Ryan O’Reilly does not seem like one who cares about personal accolades, he might be even more potent if he sees an award snub the same way fans do. O’Reilly was denied the Selke Trophy for 2020, meaning he would not win the award for a second year.
The Selke Trophy is voted on by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. No offense, but the writers picked the wrong player and by the wrong margin.
Couturier is a good player and a solid two-way player who deserved to be in the discussion for this award, so this is not a gigantic upset. However, it has a feel of the writers looking to reward someone who has been in the discussion before and not won it.
Bergeron would have won the award if it was based on a poll of coaches. However, the snub seems to mainly go toward O’Reilly.
O’Reilly was leaned on by the Blues more this season than last, when he actually won the award. His defensive effort never wavered despite having what he would consider an off year offensively.
The funny thing is O’Reilly actually outscored both of his compatriots up for this award. He had 61 points compared to 56 and 59 for Bergeron and Couturier, respectively.
More impressive was he only had 12 goals, compared to 31 and 22 for the other guys. So, he was even more team oriented by setting up players when his own offensive game was not clicking. He had more actual points and more adjusted points too
But, this is a defensive award, or so it says. All three players were almost identical in defensive point shares, separated by 0.2 percentage points.
Bergeron was tops with 2.3, 2.2 for Couturier and 2.1 for O’Reilly.
So, was faceoff win percentage really the deciding factor? Couturier’s league leading 59.7% wins is impressive, but O’Reilly was no slouch at 56.6%.
He also took the most faceoffs in the NHL and won the most faceoffs in the league. Feels like he’s punished because the Blues relied more heavily on him in key faceoff situations and he was barely 3% less effective.
O’Reilly was better in other defensive stats too. He had 42 blocks and 69 takeaways, compared to just 26 blocks and 42 takeaways for Couturier.
Bergeron had 46 and 44. The only stat Couturier blew the others out of the water was hits, with 60 compared to 16 for O’Reilly and 46 for Bergeron. However, if we base the trophy on hits, you’d probably give it to a third or fourth-line player.
Rubbing salt in the wound of the overall snub is the margin of victory. Couturier had 1424 points compared to 884 for Bergeron and 816 for O’Reilly. He got 117 first place votes while Bergeron had 21 and just 11 first place votes for O’Reilly.
This is all subjective really. The fact that the margin of victory was so decisive when there were no stats to divide these three by that much is what feels strange.
Additionally, the Blues relied on O’Reilly more and were the first-place team in the Western Conference when the league shut down.
O’Reilly was playing over 20 minutes per game, compared to 19:50 for Couturier and 18:44 for Bergeron. He won the most faceoffs, negating the fact he simply took more than any other player. O’Reilly had more takeaways and blocks, both of which seem to be a better defensive stat. He also took more defensive zone faceoffs than any other player in the league, showing that the Blues trusted him to win the faceoff or help them in the zone if he lost it.
Again, Couturier is a good player and this is no slight on him. However, this feels like the league just trying to award it to someone else as opposed to him actually being a clear-cut winner by the margins the vote would suggest.