Before game two of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight, the NHL will release the winner of the Hart Memorial trophy for the leagues most valuable player.
Alex Ovechkin is up for the Hart once again. He has won the Hart twice, and been nominated 4 times in his career. He put up a total of 56 points this season. Ovi netted 32 goals and added 24 assists on the Capitals late season run into the playoffs. Ovechkin has received his fair share of criticism lately, after not having a 40 goal season since 2009-2010. Ovechkin turned his game around late this season and got the Caps into the playoffs. The Caps lost to the Rangers in 7 in a series that I believe they should have won.
John Tavares is also up for the Hart this season after putting up 28 goals and 19 assists for 47 points in 48 games. This will be the first time Tavares is up for the award. Tavares has his first 80 point season last year, and he stayed on pace to hit it again (unfortunately due to the lockout 80 points may be a bit of a stretch). Tavares helped push the Islanders into the playoffs, where they were able to push the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6 game series.
Sidney Crosby is the last of the finalists for the Hart this season. Crosby had 15 goals and 41 assists for 56 points this season and only played in 36 games. Crosby missed time due to injuries, but still was able to put up huge numbers this season. Pittsburgh rolled over the East and won the conference in the regular season. The Penguins lost in the Conference Finals to the Boston Bruins in 4 games, and Crosby looked like he had never played a playoff game in his life. Luckily for him, the playoffs do not judge who wins the Hart, but Crosby missed 12 games this season and the Penguins were still able to post a record of 8-4 without Crosby in the line-up.
So who will win the Hart? Will Ovi’s late season heroics bring home the third Hart of his career? Will Tavares go back to Long Island giving Islander fans something to truly celebrate? Can Crosby win his second Hart even though he missed 12 games, and the Penguins were just fine without him? What do you think? I’m putting my money on Tavares.