By Tom Dougherty (@todougherty)
Fourth in the NHL in scoring, 41 assists and 56 points, and on pace for 74 points for the 48-game schedule — 127 points for an 82-game schedule yet Sidney Crosby did not take home the Hart Trophy on Saturday.
That honor went to Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who was a deserving finalist as was Islanders center John Tavares. But if we’re voting on the Most Valuable Player, out of the three finalists, Tavares runs away with the award.
No one saw the Islanders making the playoffs, and Tavares led them there. Their roster doesn’t fly off paper as a playoff team. They’re a young squad with a troubled goaltending situation, though Evgeni Nabokov was stellar.
It’s similar to Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus. Bobrovsky singlehandedly put the Blue Jackets in contention. Take him out of the equation we’re talking about Seth Jones headed to Ohio.
Without Tavares leading the way, the Islanders miss the playoffs. The true MVP is almost always the goaltender. A team goes as far as their goalie takes them as the Flyers have learned, but there are some circumstances where it’s not the goalie. The Islanders are an example of that.
The voting for the award is flawed because history says that MVPs are usually the players with the most eye-popping stats, which, in this case, is Sidney Crosby.
Crosby potted 15 goals in 36 games, compared to 32 for Ovechkin in 58 games and 28 in 48 games for Tavares. Sid’s 41 assists were 17 more than Ovechkin and 22 more than Tavares. He did this while also missing time with a fractured jaw.
Sit back, sip your coffee and think about that. Crosby was on pace for 74 points — 14 more than Martin St. Louis, who led the league with 60 points. Had it been a full 82-game schedule, he’d finish with 127 points. When Crosby won the Hart Trophy in just his second season at the age of 19, he tallied 120 points.
Crosby’s points per game totals were ridiculous. The 25-year-old scored 1.56 points in each game he played. He picked up a 1.14 assists per game and in 0.42 games he scored a goal. That means that the Pens could count on Crosby scoring at least a point in 36 regular season games this year.
The argument that the Pens can live without Crosby is valid. They also have Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and acquired Jarome Iginla at the trade deadline, among other highly talented forwards. But Crosby was simply too good not to be the MVP.
If Ovechkin takes home the award because how good he was in the second half of the season and due to him carrying the Capitals into the playoffs when they looked like a team in dismay at the midpoint, then how do you look past how dominant Crosby was for the best team in the Eastern Conference that was forced to play 12 games — 24 possible points in the standings — without the greatest player in the world.
There’s no doubt that Ovechkin became an effective player once again in the NHL after several seasons as nothing other than a goal scorer. That’s good for the NHL. But by no means was Alex Ovechkin the Most Valuable Player for the third time in his career.
At least, not this season. That honor goes to Sidney Crosby.
Contact Tom Dougherty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Tom Dougherty is a journalism student at Temple University, a web producer for CSNPhilly.com, and runs Flyers Focus (http://flyersfocus.net/). He loves coffee, hockey and Pearl Jam -- preferably at once.