The finalists for the Hart Trophy were announced this week. To no one’s surprise, Alexander Ovechkin was nominated as Most Valuable Player; he will try to win his second in a row. We in Washington know a lot about Ovechkin of course, but maybe not as much about the other two candidates who were nominated. All have good reason to be nominated, and each of them was clearly the MVP of their respective teams. It certainly will be a tough decision, as all three of these players are worthy of the honor.
Even though he is a Penguin, let’s give credit where credit is due.
Evgeni Malkin is truly one of the most explosive young players in the league. We hear that so many times about a young star that it becomes repetitive, but Malkin truly deserves it. His passing ability and his ability to create plays more than make up for his solid but unspectacular goal count.
As much as the NHL wants to deny it, Malkin is truly the number one player on the Penguins, not his counterpart Sidney Crosby. He really came into his own last year when Crosby went down with a stubbed toe (or something like that). Malkin kept the Penguins in the mix and ultimately is the reason they went to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In this year’s playoffs he leads his team in points, goals and assists. Even though the playoffs don’t count toward the Hart, his stats from the first series certainly show why he was nominated. It has become a bit easier to like him considering Alex and he can be seen talking together outside of the visitors’ locker room in the Verizon Center; it appears they have become friends again.
Pavel Datsyuk has quietly become one of the leagues brightest stars. On a team with so much talent, though, it is no surprise he sometimes doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Datsyuk isn’t a pure scorer, but can make a pretty play. It is his two way versatility and his overall offensive ability that make him great.
Datsyuk has been a star on the Red Wings opposite Marian Hossa for the entire year. As mentioned before, it his two way play that makes him and Hossa a deadly combination. Both can race up the ice and score, but Datsyuk is one of the only centers who can skate back to make the defensive takeaway. His defensive abilities haven’t gone unnoticed either as he’s a fixture among Selke Trophy nominees. Part of his amazing defensive abilities come with his ability to seemingly lift any opponents stick for a quick takeaway.
One word most hockey players use to describe Datsyuk is gentlemanly. On top of his great abilities as hockey player, Datsyuk is also one of the most upstanding players on the ice. Like his defensive play it hasn’t gone unnoticed, as he is also making a run for his fourth straight Lady Byng award.
What can’t you say about this guy?
He hits hard, plays with heart, always gives his all, encourages his teammates and oh yeah, he can score like nobody else. Alexander Ovechkin has scored goals every way possible it seems; from his knees, on his back, from the point, in front of the net, with a defenseman in his face and while being hooked from behind.
While it is true that Ovechkin won the scoring title again this year, that isn’t entirely why he was nominated for the MVP. He is the heart of the Washington Capitals team. He works so hard on the ice and takes every loss and mistake very hard. He embodies everything that is MVP. While watching him on the ice you can always see him trying to help guys get going on offense or energize the crowd.
One of the most notable quotes from Alex is when he couldn’t get the puck to Brooks Laich on an odd man empty net rush. There was a defenseman in the way and Alex had to score it himself. Instead of celebrating his goal the first thing Alex said to Laich was “I’m sorry.” Laich would have had his first hat trick and Alex was disappointed he couldn’t help him get it. If that doesn’t scream MVP then I don’t know what does.
Ovechkin is yet again the most worthy candidate for the Hart Trophy, and it’s not because this is a Capitals site. There have been countless times when Ovechkin has picked up the Caps on his back and won the game, and not many guys can do that.