Tag: John Tavares

Devan Dubnyk

Poll: Are there any worthy Hart Trophy snubs?


Whenever you’re talking about an award that seeks to recognize the best player in the league, any decision is going to be contested. The same can be true for the list of finalists. Now that we know that Montreal’s Carey Price, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and the Islanders’ John Tavares are this year’s Hart Trophy finalists, was there anyone that deserved to be on that list that was excluded?

Below are three potential alternatives. Each of them had great seasons, but there are also understandable reasons why they didn’t make the cut. Do you agree with those reasons though?

1) Devan Dubnyk – Perhaps the most obvious snub. When the Wild acquired Dubnyk on Jan. 14, they were a struggling franchise that seemed doomed to fall short of the playoffs. Then Dubnyk posted an incredible 1.78 GAA and .936 save percentage in 39 contests to make Minnesota one of the best teams in the second half. He was likely excluded in part because he wasn’t with Minnesota for the full 2014-15 campaign and partially due to the presence of Price on the list. Goaltenders tend to be a tough sell for the Hart Trophy and having them take up two of the three slots might have been asking for too much.

2) Jamie Benn – This year’s Art Ross Trophy winner (35 goals, 87 points in 82 contests) didn’t end up warranting a spot among the Hart Trophy finalists. It’s easy to see why though: The Dallas Stars weren’t a playoff squad and MVP awards take the success of the team into consideration. Still, he had one of the best seasons out of this year’s crop of forwards.

3) Sidney Crosby – Crosby is the latest Hart Trophy winner, but he wasn’t able to defending his spot as the MVP. He took a noticeable step back offensively, going from 104 points to 84 in 77 contests in 2014-15. His team’s struggles in the second half of the campaign likely didn’t do him any favors either. He had a great season though with his 84-point total being good enough for third in the league’s scoring race.

Ovechkin, Tavares, Price are Hart Trophy finalists

Carey Price

Montreal’s Carey Price, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and the Islanders’ John Tavares have been revealed as the finalists for the 2015 Hart Trophy.

For Ovechkin, this is an opportunity for him to take home the award for a fourth time. That would put him in an elite group that currently consists of just Eddie Shore, Gordie Howe, and Wayne Gretzky.

There are some arguments in favor of Ovechkin being named the league’s MVP. The single biggest one is his dominance of the goals category as he netted 53 markers while the next best player, Steven Stamkos, had 43 goals. Ovechkin also arguably had his best defensive season in years, as evidenced by his 53.7% Fenwick For in 5-on-5 situations. That’s plus-3.2% better than his team did when he wasn’t on the ice, which represents the biggest gap since 2010-11. In other words, by that measure, you could suggest that his presence on the ice had a greater positive impact for Washington than it had in recent years.

Tavares has never won the award before, but he had a strong campaign with 38 goals and 86 points in 82 contests. After a difficult 2013-14 campaign for the Islanders, the captain played a big role in guiding the franchise back to the playoffs. The Islanders’ 47-28-7 record was also their best since 1983-84.

Since being selected with the first overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Tavares has helped turn the Islanders’ franchise around, but there was arguably a player that had an even bigger impact on his team this year. Montreal owes its success in 2014-15 in large part to Price. He was consistently dominant throughout the campaign and ended up with 44 wins, a 1.96 GAA, and a .933 save percentage in 66 starts.

Goaltenders are typically at a disadvantage when it comes to the Hart Trophy and the last netminder to overcome that was Jose Theodore in 2001–02. However, Price’s dominance combined with a relatively lackluster campaign for top-end forwards might have set the stage for him to claim this year’s award.

Tavares struggles to believe ‘it’s really over’ for Isles

John Tavares

The New York Islanders are finished for the 2014-15 season. So is their time at Nassau Coliseum. It all crashed down as the Capitals suffocated them in Washington by a score of 2-1 in Game 7.

For many, the most shocking thing was a poor effort by the Islanders’ offense, as they generated just 11 shots on goal (with a measly three coming from forward).

For captain John Tavares, it’s just tough to fathom that they’re done until 2015-16.

“It’s just hard to believe it’s really over,” Tavares told WFAN’s Daniel Friedman.

That’s not to say that Tavares & Co. are delusional about their efforts, however. They admitted that it wasn’t a great performance. They also didn’t blame the officials.

Indeed, the Islanders have months for Game 7’s letdown to gnaw at them. What they won’t have is another chance for a bit run at their old barn.

Nothing but Kuznetsov: Caps best Isles in Game 7

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals - Game Five

During the offseason, the Washington Capitals spent big bucks on their defense after hiring head coach Barry Trotz. Those two factors seemed to come in quite handy in a Game 7 win against the New York Islanders.

Now, of course, the highlight reels will favor Evgeny Kuznetsov’s slick game-winner, and it’s easy to see why:

Still, the Capitals played a nearly perfect defensive game, however people feel about officiating and other issues. In fact, most would probably agree that even Braden Holtby’s goal allowed was more about the strong netminder having a rare (and almost critical) lapse.

Incredibly, Washington held the Islanders to just 11 shots on goal in the entire game. The most suffocating span probably came during the first period:


Jaroslav Halak had his adventurous moments with wild bounces off the boards, yet he was often outstanding, nearly befuddling the Capitals in yet another elimination situation. It’s unlikely the Islanders are looking on the bright side right now, but at least they should feel confident about locking down a goalie who remains excellent with everything on the line (even with this loss, he’s 6-2 in elimination games during his postseason career).

With this, the Capitals move on to face the New York Rangers in a rivalry that’s becoming familiar to fans of this Ovechkin-era Washington team. One could argue that, when you consider the strengths of both teams, this might just be the best the two squads have been collectively.

It’s a crushing feeling for the Islanders, who move from Long Island to Brooklyn with a heavy heart (though they at least closed Nassau Coliseum with a win).

Harsh or not, some will single out Islanders captain John Tavares:

(To be fair, Tavares had a nice series overall.)

Many will wonder why Isles bench boss Jack Capuano didn’t pull Jaroslav Halak during an honestly surprising late power-play opportunity, but ultimately, it was a team letdown for New York. They’ll have an uncomfortable amount of time to think about that … and possibly make some changes to continue their strides toward contender status in the East.

That said, considering serious injuries to their defense corps, the Islanders may at least find some sweetness to go along with all the bitter feelings of seeing their season end on Monday. It just might take some time.

Backstrom: Caps need to be ‘hungrier’ in Game 7

John Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck, Nicklas Backstrom

As close as the New York Islanders’ 3-1 win was in Game 6, it sounds like the Washington Capitals believe that there was a noticeable difference in the two teams’ effort levels.

Nicklas Backstrom mentioned the word “hungrier” twice in less than two minutes while describing Washington’s efforts, which indicates disappointment (and maybe an urge to leave the locker room for dinner). Head coach Barry Trotz admitted that the Islanders desperation level was “a little bit higher than ours,” according to the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt.

Should their be some concern about Washington’s historic difficulty to close out opponents?

Overall, the Capitals seemed a bit letdown by their efforts, but certainly not devastated. This contest was tight much like the majority of the contests in this series, as John Tavares said right after the Islanders’ win.