Henrik Sedin takes down Crosby and Ovechkin to win Hart Trophy

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henriksedin4.jpgThe biggest award of the night, the Hart Trophy, was perhaps the most hotly debated of them all. And why not, it goes to the league’s most valuable player and all three nominees had exemplary seasons. The question remaining tonight would be who out of Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik Sedin and Sidney Crosby would be the one to take home the hardware. All three players have stronger than strong cases to win the award, but it would be Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin that came away with the Hart Trophy and the voters indicated that it was really a two-horse race.

                        Pts.        (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
        1.        Henrik Sedin, VAN        894        (46-34-27-19-4)
        2.        Alex Ovechkin, WSH        834        (40-35-22-22-13)
        3.        Sidney Crosby, PIT        729        (20-35-38-29-7)
        4.        Ryan Miller, BUF        505        (13-22-24-27-20)
        5.        Ilya Bryzgalov, PHX        354        (13-6-17-22-31)
        6.        Steven Stamkos, T.B.        28        (0-0-2-3-9)
        7.        Patrick Kane, CHI        17        (0-1-0-2-4)
        8.        Martin Brodeur, N.J.        16        (0-0-2-0-6)
        9.        Craig Anderson, COL        10        (1-0-0-0-0)
        10.        Patrick Marleau, S.J.        10        (0-0-0-3-1)
        11.        Nicklas Backstrom, WSH        10        (0-0-0-2-4)
        12.        Joe Thornton, S.J.        9        (0-0-0-1-6)
        13.        Zach Parise, N.J.        7        (0-0-1-0-2)
        14.        Mike Green, WSH        5        (0-0-0-1-2)
        15.        Zdeno Chara, BOS        3        (0-0-0-1-0)
        16.        Duncan Keith, CHI        3        (0-0-0-0-3)
        17.        Drew Doughty, L.A.        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Marian Gaborik, NYR        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Anze Kopitar, L.A.        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Nicklas Lidstrom, DET        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Tuukka Rask, BOS        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Martin St. Louis, T.B.        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
        23.        Henrik Lundqvist, NYR        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Evgeni Nabokov, S.J.        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Chris Pronger, PHI        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Paul Stastny, COL        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Tomas Vokoun, FLA        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Shea Weber, NSH        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Henrik Zetterberg, DET        1        (0-0-0-0-1)

It would be Ovechkin who posed the strongest challenge to Sedin for the award and Sedin had just six more first place votes than Ovechkin. While the first place votes were split amongst the top five finishers for the award, the other two being Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov it was Colorado’s Craig Anderson who managed to get a single vote in the top spot to make for a curious outlier.

As for the real race, the six vote difference between Sedin and Ovechkin was indeed the reason for the 60 point separation between the two as first place votes count for ten points.  There’s no denying how great a season Sedin had being the Art Ross Trophy winner for being the league’s leading scorer and in leading the Canucks to a Northwest Division title. You could basically toss a three-sided die and make out all right with having any of the finalists as the MVP but after all the attention both Crosby and Ovechkin earn, it’s Sedin that walks away with the big prize. So much for that whole “east coast bias” thing.

(photo credit to Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.