by PuckStopsHere on 01/04/14 at 01:12 AM ET
In early December I picked Joe Thornton as the Lady Byng Trophy leader as the player who best combines playing ability and sportsmanship. I think he has been surpassed in the Lady Byng race by Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks. It is much harder to play a sportsmanlike game at defence than it is at forward. In fact only three defencemen have ever won this award: Red Kelly, Bill Quackenbush and Brian Campbell. Keith is tied with Thornton in penalty minutes and has done this with more ice time. Keith is also the leading candidate for the Norris Trophy as best defenceman. Keith has been a more valuable player than Thornton as well - as no reasonable argument can be made that Joe Thornton has been the best player at his position. Duncan Keith has always had a relatively clean game but his penalty minute total is remarkably low this season. He has six penalty minutes in 44 games played. Last year he had 31 PIMs in 47 games. That is a more representative season for him over his career. Duncan Keith has played a very gentlemanly game this season while playing at a very high level. That makes him the Lady Byng Trophy front-runner.
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