On the day Calgary Flames centre Elias Lindholm was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy, he was preparing for the biggest defensive challenge of his career.
He’s going head-to-head with Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid in Round Two. The most dangerous player in the NHL playoffs.
McDavid was the driving force behind a seven-game series win over the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. He averaged two points per game and practically willed his team to victory in Game 7 on Saturday.
Claiming the Art Ross Trophy with 123 points in the regular season, McDavid looked unstoppable in the first round. He put up four goals and 14 points in the seven games against the Kings.
The responsibility to shut McDavid down doesn’t fall entirely on Lindholm. But the two will spend a lot of time across the faceoff circle from each other as the Calgary Flames take on their provincial rival.
Lindholm’s regular season suggests he’s up to the task.
Flames centre posted stellar statistics
The NHL’s release noted the obvious numbers.
“Lindholm posted a plus-61 rating in 82 games, behind only linemate Johnny Gaudreau (plus-64) as the NHL’s best in the past 34 years,” said the league.
“He led Flames forwards in several key categories on a team that posted its lowest goals-against total over an 82-game season (206) since 2009-10, including blocked shots (52), takeaways (t-1st, 55), time on ice (19:57 per game) and average time while shorthanded (2:07) for the League’s sixth-best penalty-killing unit (83.2 per cent).
“He also was one of the NHL’s top face-off performers, ranking third overall in total faceoffs (1,592) and fifth in faceoff wins (842) for a 52.9 win percentage.”
Lindholm’s underlying numbers also painted a picture worthy of his Selkie finalist selection by the Professional Hockey Writers Association voters. His line with Matthew Tkachuk and Gaudreau was dominant in possession metrics.
This is the first time Lindholm has been an NHL award finalist. The Flames have never had a player win the award and haven’t had a Selke finalist in two decades. Current Flames Assistant GM Craig Conroy finished second in 2002.