In most sports (not necessarily hockey), an MVP award will go to the best player on the best team more times than not. If you believe that to be the case, then there’s no reason to believe Alex Ovechkin won’t take home his third consecutive Hart Trophy.
It’s hard to imagine Ovechkin improved his offensive game, but I really think he did this season. Sure, his goal total has gone down by 15 since the 07/08 campaign, but his assist total has increased. ‘Ovie’ took 160 less shots than he did in 08/09, resulting in the slight dip in goals from 56 to 50. As a result to shooting less, he spread out the contributions to his line-mates, making them better in the process.
Nicklas Backstrom scored 33 goals… 11 more than a year ago. Mike Knuble tallied 29 goals… which would have equated to 34 (tying a career-high) if he didn’t miss 13 games. Alex Semin also netted a career-high 40 goals, thanks in some part to Ovechkin, as they were occasionally on the same line.
‘AO’ also proved his worth at even strength this year. He recorded the least amount of power play points in his career (36), but still compiled 109 points during the year. ‘Ovie’ had a plus-45 rating (good for 2nd in the NHL), meaning he did a lot of damage while skating five-on-five.
Ovechkin put together his third straight 50-plus-goal season, and did so in just 72 games. If he had played in 82 games, that total would be in the 57 range, where he would have easily won the Rocket Richard Trophy.
A lot of people give him a bad rap for his play in the postseason, and not getting the Caps deeper than they have been… but this award is solely voted on for the regular season, and done so before the playoffs start.
The Washington Capitals were the Presidents’ Trophy winners, and couldn’t have done it without the ‘Great Eight’… as Joe Beninati would say!
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