Alex Ovechkin

Crosby, Ovechkin, and Tavares are your Hart Trophy finalists


Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and John Tavares are your 2013 Hart Trophy finalists, the award given for the league’s most valuable player.

Crosby, 25, missed 12 games this season thanks to a broken jaw but was only edged out as the league’s leading scorer late in the season. His 15 goals and 41 assists had him finishing fourth in the league in points. He helped lead the Penguins to the top seed in the Eastern Conference and an Atlantic Division title. He has one previous Hart Trophy to his credit for his play in the 2006-2007 season.

Ovechkin, 27, turned it on late in the season finishing the year with a league-leading 32 goals and finished third in the league in points. His play helped dig the Caps out of an early season hole that saw them near the bottom of the league. The Caps finished the year atop the Southeast Division and third in the East. He’s a two-time Hart winner taking home the award in back-to-back seasons in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.

Tavares is the new guy in the group here. At 22 years-old, it’s his first time as a finalist for league MVP and his efforts in leading the Islanders to the playoffs for the first time since 2006-2007 didn’t go unnoticed. He finished the regular season third in the league in goals with 28. His steady improvement through his career shows this might be the first of many shots at MVP.

Possible snubs: Chicago’s Jonathan Toews for leading his team to the best record in the league. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf for leading the Ducks to a division title after missing the playoffs last year. Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky for nearly getting the Blue Jackets to the playoffs.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.