The debates I want to start and end are: 1) Is Mike Green even worthy of consideration for the Norris Trophy this season? 2) Assuming you think he is worthy of consideration, should he win the Norris Trophy this season.
So let's look at and quickly dispense with the answer to question 1. There is no doubt that Mike Green is worthy of consideration - here's where he ranks in key statistics so far this season in comparison with the other defenseman in the league:
A) +/- ratings: Green's current +24 puts him at number 6 among all defensemen in this stat.
B) Total Points: Green's 67 points so far this season puts him at number 1 in this spot, 7 points ahead of second place Andrei Markov in this category.
C) Goals: Green's 28 goals put him in first 7 goals ahead of Shea Weber and Sheldon Souray.
D) TOI/G: Green's 25:51 put him at number 7 on this list just 00:19 seconds behind sixth place Zdeno Chara.
E) Shots & Shooting %: Green's 229 shots put him at number 4 in that statistical category 24 shots behind category leader Dion Phaneuf but Green's 12.2% shooting % puts him 3.1% better than Shea Weber, 3.7% ahead of Souray, and 8% better than Phaneuf - the only guys ahead of him in SOG. He is the number 1 defenseman in shooting % by a fair measure (0.7%).
F) Hits, Blocked Shots and Takeaways: While Green's 80 hits and 97 blocked shots both put him at #78 among the league's defensemen in those categories, both somewhat lower than Zdeno Chara (125 hits # 33 on the list and 110 blocked shots #55 in that category - among defensemen) whose name most often come up when talk turns to the Norris Trophy winner this season. Game Over's 47 takeaways put him at #5 among defensemen in that category ahead of Chara 25 takeaways/#53. For what it's worth Green is ahead of Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom in all three categories by a considerable measure, Lidstrom has 34 hits, 61 blocked shots and 26 takeaways in 72 games played so far this season, and nobody casts aspersions when someone suggests him for possible consideration for another Norris Trophy.
Now on to the answer to question 2. First the definition of the Norris Trophy is: the James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position. When you look at all the statistics and you factor in the fact that each season the premium placed more and more on offensive production without costing your team defensively is growing in response to changes in the game, is being done so for good reason; you come up with a pretty short list of worthy possible awardees. They include:
A) Nicklas Lidstrom, the award winner for the past three seasons is #4 in +/- and #15 in TOI/G. Lidstrom also has 13 G and 40 Assists including 4 game winners.
B) Zdeno Chara, Boston's Captain and shut down defenseman is everything listed above as well as #7 in +/- and #6 (26:10) in TOI/G. Chara also has 16 goals and 27 assists including 2 game winners.
C) Mike Green, the league's highest scoring defenseman is also # in +/- and #7 in TOI/G (25:51); he has 3 game winners, 11 even strength, 16 even strength and 1 short handed goal. He broke the NHL record for goals in consecutive games this season and with 2 more goals will be the first defensemen in long stretch with 30 or more goals. He is also #1 in shooting percentage (12.2%) and #4 in shots on goal (229). In today's NHL, the best defense is a good offense - it's hard for a team to score when they are focused on stopping the other team from scoring and that's what Mike green has been doing when he's been on the ice this season.
D) David Johnny Oduya , the New Jersey Devil who is +23 is #8 in that category and his 21:00 TOI/G is #89. Oduya has 7 goals and 21 assists, including 4 game winners.
E) Duncan Keith, the Chicago Blackhawk is +32 (#2 in that category) has 25:32 TOI/G is #9, He has 8 goals and 34 assists including 1 game winner and 1 short handed goal.
I'm sure you can argue whether Oduya, Kieth or someone else should be the last two guys on my list but even when you do, with between 5 and 8 games left in the season, you won't likely argue with the inclusion of Chara, Green and Lidstrom on the list. Bottom line is all three have been dominant forces most of the time they've been on the ice this season. However for my money the guy who has exhibited the greatest all around ability in the position this season is Mike Green. Perhaps the best thing Green has going for him in the voting is I suspect despite all the campaigning unless Evgeni Malkin just doesn't show up much the rest of the season, he, not Alexander Ovechkin, will win the Hart Trophy. By the way if you look at The Sporting News NHL player overall strength ratings Green is the highest rated defensemen as of the March 24th rankings at #2 wedged between MVP candidates Ovechkin #1, Zach Parise #3 and Evgeni Malkin #3. The highest rated defenseman after Mike Green is Chara at #17. Perhaps that's the best argument for Green getting the Norris this season.
Yesterday, in NHL action, there were 7 games, 6 of which had playoff implications for sure and the seventh which could possibly come in to play but it's unlikely. In the action that is most likely to affect the Capitals, the Bruins beat the Flyers in regulation. In the other game involving Eastern Conference teams Ottawa beat Tampa Bay in regulation in a game likely to be one of several games the next two weeks whose only impact is likely to see who gets into the lottery for the first draft pick. In Western Conference action: Vancouver beat Chicago in regulation, Nashville beat Detroit in regulation, St Louis beat Columbus in regulation, Minnesota beat Edmonton and Anaheim beat Colorado.
Finally Caps fans, tonight when New Jersey plays the Rangers, they will be playing their final game in hand they have on the Capitals. So once again we find ourselves in a very, very, very strange position - rooting for the Rangers to win in regulation. If that happens then the Caps will truly be in second place 1/2 game and 1 point ahead of the Devils. Yesterday, the Bruins beat the Flyers so they are now 7 points ahead of the Capitals and they still have a game in hand on the Caps. There are only three games tonight NJ vs. NYR; San Jose vs. Calgary; Dallas vs. Phoenix. The only one of the three games with any ramifications on the Eastern Conference playoff races is NJ vs. NYR.