SUN Hockey Pool

Selke smooth Langkow

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Daymond Langkow is up for one piece of NHL hardware, the Masterton Trophy.

The way linemate Jarome Iginla sees it, the Calgary Flames centre should have his named bandied about loudly for the Selke Trophy, given annually to the league's best defensive forward.

"He should be a front-runner, not just a candidate," Iginla said.

"He's had a really good year. He's played against the other teams' top players all year and look at his plus-minus. Plus, he has contributed big-time offensively."

Langkow enters tonight's clash against the Minnesota Wild (6 p.m., Sportsnet) with 30 goals and 70 points, both career highs.

He's also a plus-21 -- 13th best among NHL forwards entering last night's action.

That's one reason his teammates believe Langkow deserves a long hard look at the Selke.

Another is his takeaways -- 75 this season -- which puts him fifth in the league.

"The thing with Daymond, he's so easy to play with because he's really good in his own zone," said forward Tony Amonte.

"He takes a lot of pride in his defensive zone coverage and is the type of guy who's gonna work. He works just as hard in the defensive zone as he does in the offensive zone.

"He'd be the perfect candidate for that award."

Just don't expect Langkow to openly campaign.

"Honestly, I don't think about that stuff," Langkow said. "The way I look at things right now, you only get so many opportunities to play with a group of guys like this and have an opportunity to win. That's what I'm focused on right now."

Langkow admits he was shocked by the Masterton nomination, given to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication.

Far from a chatterbox, Langkow remains mum when it comes to injuries.

Last season, his first with the Flames, he was hindered at the start due to a virus just before training camp that took 12 lb. off his frame.

He's known for playing with pain, such as earlier this season when he blocked a shot off the foot against Florida and didn't even skip practice the next day.

He's missed only one game in the last four seasons and that was to be there for the birth of one of his children.

"To me, it's about not letting down your teammates," he said. "If you can play through an injury, you've gotta do it.

"Once you get out there, you forget about it and just play the game."

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MEET DAYMOND'S COMPETITION ...

- David Legwand, Nashville: He has put up 23 goals, 58 points and a plus-26 rating in a breakout campaign.

- Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina: Last year's winner is having another fine season, with 23 goals and 75 points but is only a plus-11.

- Jere Lehtinen, Dallas: A perennial favourite but he's having an off year, with 26 goals and 42 points. He is only a plus-6.

- Mike Fisher, Ottawa: His modest plus-9 rating may hurt his chances but he's on the verge of setting a career high for points.

- Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh: The rookie has 29 goals -- seven shorthanded -- along with a plus-20 rating. And he's only 18 .


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