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It’s a travesty if Ovechkin doesn’t win the Hart

Posted By Ryan Cleaver On Mar 29 2010 @ 5:19 pm In Washington Capitals | 9 Comments

Now’s the time of year where it’s easy for broadcasters to fill the air with year-end awards small talk.  “Do YOU think Henrik Sedin has a chance at the Hart or the Pearson?”  “Why yes, I think he has an excellent chance.”  I mean, what are you going to say?  “Hell no, why would anyone cast a vote for a forward that isn’t Ovechkin or Crosby?  At least if you vote for Ryan Miller at least you can put together a cogent argument [1].”  Personally, I think Ovechkin has it sewn up, but once you put that argument to rest it’s tough to fill blog posts [2], so it’s easier to say it’ll go down to the wire [3].

Let’s start with the argument against Ovechkin.  There’s only one with any legs: Washington is 7-2-1 in his absence, 42-13-10 with him, a slightly lower point percentage (75% versus 72.3%).  Well the Capitals played the Panthers, who currently has the third worst record in the NHL, in four of the ten games Ovechkin missed, going 4-0-0 and outscoring Florida 24-10.  Take away those games and Washington is 3-2-1 without their best player in two games against the Devils, one against the Flyers, and three non-playoff teams.  One can argue that the Capitals are likely a playoff team without Ovechkin, but I can’t imagine they’d have a comfortable lead for best record in the league.

Sidney Crosby has similar stats to Ovechkin (plus/minus notwithstanding) in 10 more games played and is the likely runner-up for the Hart Trophy.  If Crosby and Ovechkin finish with with similar goal and point totals, I can’t imagine Crosby beating him out with 10 fewer games played (Ovechkin is averaging 1.54 points per game, Crosby 1.25), a 30+ points lower plus/minus rating, and a team trailing in the standings.  Ryan Miller is the other legitimate Hart contender [4].  He leads qualifiers in GAA and save percentage carrying a team that can still win the 2 seed in the East.  If the NHLs two biggest stars weren’t having career type years, he’d have a much better case.  But goalies generally only win the Hart if no one on an elite team [5] has a dominant [6] year [7].  As for Sedin, come on.  He’s had a great year and maybe he wins the Art Ross.  But would any coach, GM, writer, or broadcaster really take Sedin over Ovechkin or Crosby?  If you replace one the league’s preeminent stars with Henrik Sedin would Pittsburgh or Washington improve?

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URLs in this post:

[1] if you vote for Ryan Miller at least you can put together a cogent argument: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/Miller+deserves+Hart/2735927/story.html

[2] fill blog posts: http://insider.espn.go.com/nhl/blog?name=hradek_ej&id=5008837

[3] it’ll go down to the wire: http://www.sportingnews.com/nhl/article/2010-03-27/handicapping-hart-trophy-its-ovechkin-and-challengers

[4] legitimate Hart contender: http://insider.espn.go.com/nhl/insider/news/story?id=5037513

[5] no one on an elite team: http://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/NHL_1997.html

[6] dominant: http://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/NHL_1998.html

[7] year: http://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/NHL_2002.html

[8] Subscribe to author's RSS feed: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/cleaver/feed/

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