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NHL Awards Preview: Chara, Rask, Bergeron Could Earn Top Honors

Monday, 06.23.2014 / 8:10 PM
By Caryn Switaj - BostonBruins.com / Bruins Blog
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NHL Awards Preview: Chara, Rask, Bergeron Could Earn Top Honors

LAS VEGAS - The BostonBruins.com crew has arrived in Las Vegas to bring coverage from the NHL Awards, taking place on Tuesday, June 24 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.

The show will air live at 7:00 p.m ET on NBCSN (CBC in Canada).

We checked in with nominees Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask on Monday afternoon during media availability at the Wynn, and we'll catch up with Patrice Bergeron at the Awards. The centerman was spending Monday in Vancouver at the Hockey Canada Olympic Gala, where members of the 2014 gold medal winning team were receiving their championship rings.

On Tuesday, we'll be on the red carpet for arrivals and then covering all of the action inside the Wynn as the awards are handed out.

Here's a rundown of the Bruins' nominations…

Zdeno Chara, Norris Finalist

Chara is a finalist for the James Norris Trophy, the award given annually "to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position."

This marks Big Zee's sixth nomination. He won it in 2009, finished second in voting in 2004, and was third in 2008, 2011 and 2012.

"It's a great experience. It's a great environment to have the awards in and I'm kind of enjoying myself and I'm happy to be with me family here," Chara told BostonBruins.com.

"It's a special feeling. It's a huge honor to be selected - the ultimate goal is different but just to be in a special group of players that have been chosen, it's a huge honor."

Chara shares the 2014 nomination with Chicago's Duncan Keith and Nashville's Shea Weber.

"There are so many elite defensemen, but the competition is huge. Every team has at least one or two defensemen who are making such a big impact on the games and their teams," Chara told gathered reporters. "It's a privilege to be nominated and be part of this, because there's an incredible group of super talented and energized defensemen who are making the game so much better."

With Chara nominated for the Norris, Rask for the Vezina and Bergeron for the Selke, it's unique that the defensive trio gets to share the experience with each other.

"I think it's just a reflection of how the team played this season," said Chara. "You know, I think it's just the result of a great a team effort and work we've done throughout the whole regular season and I think none of us can say that we would be here standing without their help, so I think it's a big thank you to all of our teammates and we'll see how it goes."

As for the offseason, Big Zee has been training for about a month now, while also trying to enjoy time with his family as well.

"A little bit of both, and it's just exciting - I'm already looking forward to the next season."

Tuukka Rask, Vezina Finalist

Rask is up for the Vezina Trophy as the League's top netminder, his first-ever nomination at the NHL Awards. It also marks his first trip to Vegas.

'What's this weekend like as a player?' a reporter began to ask Rask during the media availability in Las Vegas on Monday, before correcting 'weekend' to 'week.'

"Well it's always Saturday in Vegas, right?" Rask quipped, sparking laughter around him. "I don't know; it will be interesting. This is my first time in Vegas anyways it's kind of a ceremony, so it will be interesting to see familiar faces and you get to know new people, so it's just enjoying the atmosphere, so sure, it will be awesome."

Rask is nominated alongside Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop and Colorado's Semyon Varlamov. While individuals awards don't mean as much as the ultimate prize, it's still an honor.

"Well, it's great. It's a great honor," Rask told BostonBruins.com. "So many players in the League, and you're part of that group, it's a huge honor and I think you don't necessarily think about it as much now but when you're done playing hockey, I'm sure you'll look back and think wow, I was there, so it's a great honor."

Like Chara, Rask's also glad to share the experience with his teammates. Unlike Chara and Bergeron, everything is new for the goalie.

"I don't really know what to expect, I've never been to any really fancy thing like this, so I'm excited to walk the red carpet tomorrow and seeing fans and friends, and then the awards," Rask smiled. "I hope I win, but then again, I don't have a speech ready, I'm not a good public speaker."

Still, he's excited for the chance to win.

"It's awesome. To win any kind of award, I guess you're doing something right so I'm really excited about tomorrow," he said. "We'll see how it goes."

Prior to heading to Vegas for the awards show, Rask was settling into his new role as father, with his daughter born just before the Montreal series began.

Spending time in Finland, he was relaxing and taking care of the family and baby, keeping his mind off of hockey for the time being. "Pretty normal stuff actually, working out, not doing much, just being at home and being with the baby," said Rask.

Patrice Bergeron, Selke Finalist

Bergeron received his third straight nomination in 2014 for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the NHL's best defensive forward. He took home top honors in 2012. Chicago's Jonathan Toews and LA's Anze Kopitar are the other two finalists. The centerman is also nominated for the NHL's Foundation Award.

With Bergeron in Vancouver to receive his gold medal championship ring, we caught up with Toews, who spoke about the meaning of the award, and the mutual respect the finalists have for one another.

"Well, you just look at the talent that those two guys have and maybe what they could be producing offensively if they were to focus solely on that. They're amazing players," said Toews.

"And I think that for me to be in that boat with those guys, you talk about defensive forward and it doesn't sound right - you consider yourself an offensive player, but what those guys mean to their teams and the Cups that those guys have won, it's a huge honor to be nominated for this award with those two guys, it definitely some value to it."

During the awards show, it will also be announced whether or not Bergeron won the EA Sports NHL Cover Vote, which would place him on the cover of EA Sports NHL 15, the latest edition of the video game due to be released in September.

These individual awards, of course, won't be solace for the award each of them wanted to accomplish together with the Black & Gold.

Now that the 2013-14 season is officially (and disappointingly) in the rearview, the Bruins have already switched into offseason mode, and will no doubt enjoy the experience in Vegas.

They'll say the awards are much appreciated, but they'd rather have something else, something a bit shinier.

Still, they deserve their nominations, and will deserve every accolade they receive.

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Be sure to stay tuned to BostonBruins.com, the Bruins Mobile App and on Twitter @NHLBruins in the coming days for coverage from Vegas, the red carpet and the awards show, as we find out if the Bruins win their respective awards.

Once the NHL Awards wrap up, continue following along as we head to Philadelphia for the NHL Entry Draft on June 27 and 28.

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ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 34 21 11 2 92 83 44
2 TBL 35 20 11 4 113 93 44
3 DET 34 17 8 9 94 84 43
4 TOR 34 19 12 3 114 102 41
5 BOS 34 17 14 3 86 88 37
6 FLA 31 14 9 8 69 79 36
7 OTT 33 14 13 6 89 92 34
8 BUF 34 13 18 3 66 109 29

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
P. Bergeron 34 6 17 3 23
C. Soderberg 34 6 17 7 23
D. Hamilton 34 7 13 1 20
B. Marchand 31 8 11 8 19
L. Eriksson 34 7 12 7 19
R. Smith 34 8 9 2 17
M. Lucic 34 6 10 3 16
T. Krug 30 6 6 4 12
C. Kelly 32 3 9 4 12
D. Krejci 14 3 7 1 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
N. Svedberg 4 4 0 .925 2.24
T. Rask 13 10 3 .913 2.52
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