Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 5/21/13
The NHL’s MVP is awarded the Hart Trophy every summer, and this year’s race features three star players, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Long Island’s John Tavares, and Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin.  It is important to note that all three of the finalists are from the Eastern Conference, which has earned a lot of criticism from Western Conference players.  Surely a player from the Blackhawks deserves to be in the race after dominating the league this season right?  Wrong. I’ll touch on why each candidate should win the award, and why they shouldn’t win the award. The Case for Sidney Crosby Photo Credit: Rueters Sid the Kid is the face of the National Hockey League and that is no secret.  After finally seeming symptom-free from his seemingly never ending suffering from a concussion.  But, Crosby broke his jaw in practice in early April and held him out for the rest of the month.  Even being hurt, Crosby continued to lead the league in points until the last week of the season, in which he was overtaken by Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay, and Ovechkin from Washington.  Crosby only played in 36 games this season, yet still scored 56 points, roughly a point and a half per game.  Crosby was also a disgusting +26 while on the ice, fourth in the league, in which three of the top four were from Pittsburgh.  The NHL pointed out that Crosby had a six game point streak three different times this season, and also had a game with five assists, a big part of his 41 total.  But, Sidney Crosby doesn’t deserve the award because he plays on the Penguins.  And therefore, he is not as valuable to his team as the other finalists are.  Crosby is joined by loads of talent from Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, James Neal, as well as a ridiculous number of other talented skaters.  Without Crosby on the ice, the Penguins went 8-4-0 in the month of April, which isn’t exactly struggling.  Crosby is certainly a huge asset to his team and he was on a record setting pace for points, but is he the most valuable to his team? No. The Case for John Tavares Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens A former first overall pick, the New York Islander’s skater has developed somewhat slowly through is first years in the league, but finally had his breakout in 2013.  Tavares carried the lowly Islanders to the playoffs for the first time since 2006-2007, leading his team in goals (28) and points (47).  He was also third in the league in goals scored.  Tavares is clearly the most valuable player for the Islanders, but does he mean more to his team than other players? That’s what’s in debate.  The Islanders needed Tavares to be huge just to get into the playoffs, but Evgeni Nabokov also had a monstrous season for the Islanders, and without their goaltender, would the Islanders have made the playoffs?  Tavares was also electric on the road this season, and according to the NHL, led the Islanders to their best road winning percentage in franchise history, winning 2/3 of their road games.  Tavares is getting the most attention because of the Islander’s turnaround from last season to this one.    Tavares should not win the trophy because of his team’s only mediocre success.  The Islanders, although highly improved, were not a perennial power at any point during the season.  For a player on the eight-seed to win the Hart Trophy, Tavares would need to be a lot more dominant than he was. The Case for Alexander Ovechkin Photo Credit: REUTERS / Petr Josek Snr It was a tale of two halves for Alexander Ovechkin.  In the first 27 games of the season, Ovechkin only potted seven goals.  Although the first half of his season was so poor, that’s what makes the second half so legendary.  In the final 23 games of the season, Ovechkin scored 23 goals, a ridiculous pace.  His tear through the second half of the season, and April specifically, led the Capitals to a 11-1-1 record in the final month of the season, using the weak Southeast Division to catapult themselves into the three-seed in the East.  Ovechkin ended up leading the league in goals, with 32, and finished third in the league in points, with 56, tied with Crosby.  Ovechkin was also lethal on the power play, and helped the Capitals claim the league’s most efficient power play.  Sixteen of Ovi’s 32 goals came via the power play, and he finished first in power play points, too.  Ovechkin was clearly the driving force behind the Capitals’ turnaround and transformed the team from a laughing stock at the bottom of the standings to a contender and a team with home-ice in the first round of the playoffs.  Through the Capitals’ first 27 games in which Ovechkin only scored nine times, the Capitals were in fourth place in their division, and second-to-last in the conference.  Ovechkin’s explosion brought the team up eleven spots to close the season.  Ovechkin should not win the award because of his poor first half.  He was not consistent throughout the season, while the other two finalists were. The Winner Is… Ovechkin.  His dominance of the Eastern Conference in the second-half of the season was unprecedented and surprising to practically everyone.  The way in which the Capitals struggled when Ovechkin was down compared to the success of the team when he was scoring is staggering and further proves that Ovechkin should be named the Most Valuable Player in the league and win the Hart Trophy. -Goldberg
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