The case for Alex Ovechkin for the Hart Trophy

Ovi4.jpgAs we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at
who we think should be three finalists for the Hart, Norris and Calder
Trophies, making arguments for each. We start with the Hart
Trophy, given to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. Next up: Alex Ovechkin.
 

Why he deserves it: He’s the best player on the NHL’s
best team. He’s currently at an otherwordly plus-43, and is in the hunt
for the Rocket Richard Trophy (most goals) and the Art Ross (most
points), despite missing ten games this season due to injury and/or
suspension. He won’t come close to his career high in goals (65), but
he’s elevated his overall game and becoming more more team-oriented,
with a career high in assists (58) this season.

He’s the most
exciting player in the NHL to watch, whether it’s his incredible shot
and offensive ability to his aggressiveness and physicality — no matter
how controversial it might be. He leads the NHL’s most potent offense,
and it’s tough to deny he’s one of the top three players in the NHL.
Some will argue he’s the best overall player in the league.

Why
he doesn’t deserve it:
The Hart goes to the NHL’s most valuable
player, and while Ovechkin is certainly the best player on the Capitals
the fact that the team around him is so good goes against him in the
long run. Without Ovechkin on the ice, the Capitals don’t suddenly
become a wholly mediocre team and they barely lose a step. They are
still the most dangerous team in the NHL, whether Ovechkin is playing or
not. With him on the ice the team just becomes that much better, and no
matter how scary that might be it’s tough to say he’s more valuable to
his team than others that might be up for the award. He’s also finishing
the season playing much more safe and more conservative than we’re used
to seeing, and will have a career low in shots for the season.

Why
he’ll get it:
Alex Ovechkin is the best player on the NHL’s
best team. He’s the most exciting player to watch on the most exciting
team to watch. He gets the most media attention than any other player in
the NHL (aside from perhaps Sidney Crosby), and it’s tough to deny just
how important he is to the Capitals and the NHL.

And he wears yellow laces.

Why he
won’t get it:
The fact that this has been such a controversial
season for Ovechkin, while he’s suffered through a post-Olympics slump,
will work against him. It’s tough to give the Hart to a player who has
been suspended multiple times this season, and when he was out the team
barely suffered because of it. He’s also won the Hart two times
previously; perhaps it’s another’s time to shine.

Previously:
Henrik
Sedin

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    No mic? No problem: Oilers fans sing American, Canadian national anthems

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    There was apparently an issue with a microphone used for the national anthems prior to Game 3 between the Ducks and Oilers in Edmonton.

    Canadian country music star Brett Kissel was supposed to perform the anthems, however, as he stepped up to the mic, he soon discovered that there seemed to be a malfunction.

    With some quick encouragement from Kissel, fans at Rogers Place stole the show with stirring renditions of both the American and Canadian national anthems.

    Here is the Star Spangled Banner:

    Here is O Canada:

    Sami Vatanen returns to Ducks lineup vs. Oilers

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    Good news for the Anaheim Ducks, who trail the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 in their second round series.

    Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen returns to the lineup Sunday for Game 3 — his first game since April 13, which was the opener of Anaheim’s first-round series with Calgary, because of an upper-body injury.

    However, the Ducks will be without Kevin Bieksa, who is dealing with a lower-body injury.

    Predators stifle Blues to take back series lead

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    The Nashville Predators have snapped their one-game funk in these Stanley Cup playoffs, taking back the series lead over the St. Louis Blues.

    For long stretches of Sunday’s contest, the Predators kept the puck away from and stifled the Blues, including a stretch of almost nine minutes at the beginning of the second period in which St. Louis failed to register a shot attempt.

    The Predators’ 3-1 victory in Game 3 was eventually secured on an unbelievably dominant shift late in the third period.

    Joel Edmundson‘s (costly) turnover led to a dizzying attack from Predators, who had sustained puck possession inside the St. Louis zone for about 1:10.

    By the end, Edmundson and Colton Parayko had exhausted themselves as the Predators tossed the puck around with increasing ease before Roman Josi halted the madness with a slap shot to the top corner, giving Nashville a two-goal lead.

    That continues an impressive trend for the Predators.

    They have scored nine goals in this series, with at least one defenseman contributing directly with either a goal or an assist on eight of those goals. Nashville’s group of blueliners — including Ryan Ellis, who has been on quite a productive roll throughout these playoffs — have combined for 11 points through three games in this series.

    This series resumes Tuesday in Nashville, with the Predators leading 2-1.

    VIDEO: Ryan Ellis continues his incredible postseason run for Predators

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    Playing in Nashville over the years it has been easy for Ryan Ellis to get overlooked, always playing in the shadow of bigger name stars on the team’s blue line.

    Shea Weber (before he was traded). Roman Josi. P.K. Subban.

    But Ellis has been a major part of the Predators’ blue line and he had a career-year in 2016-17, setting new personal bests in goals (16) and points (38) while matching his previous career high in assists (22).

    He has continued that strong play in the postseason and is currently the team’s leading scorer after he netted his third goal of the playoffs (and eighth total point) on Sunday afternoon to give the Predators a 1-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues.

    You can see it in the video above.

    After being held without a point in the Predators’ first playoff game, Ellis has now picked up at least one point in every playoff game since them and is now riding a six-game point streak.

    The first half of Sunday’s game has been a defensive clinic by the Predators, by the way, limiting St. Louis to just 10 shots on goal through the first 34 minutes, and none through the first 14 minutes of the second period.

    The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period when Cody McLeod deflected in his first goal of the playoffs to give the Predators some unexpected scoring depth. He had just five goals in 59 games during the regular season between the Predators and Colorado Avalanche.