The NHL Awards
Tonight the NHL hands out its regular season awards. I am going to focus on the four primary awards, giving brief thoughts on who should win and why.
Hart Trophy (MVP):
Alexander Ovechkin – Going up against Sidney Crosby and Henrik Sedin, this will be a close race. Sedin led the league in points with 112, while Ovechkin and Crosby tied for second with 109. Crosby led in goals with 51, with Ovechkin second at 50. Ovechkin led in plus/minus (goals scored while you were on the ice – goals scored by the other team while you were on the ice) at +45, Sedin came in 5th at +35, and Crosby trailed dramatically at +15. To separate these incredibly close players, I would point to the plus/minus numbers and the team success of the Capitals. An MVP is not determined by which team was best, but I consider that a useful tiebreaker when players are as close as these are. A final note: If Ovechkin wins, he will become only the third player to win three straight Harts, joining Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky. If he wins this year, and also the next five years, he will tie Gretzky’s record of 8 straight MVP’s. Good luck with that.
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman)
Drew Doughty – Doughty has zero chance, I think, and will surely finish third behind top scorer Mike Green and top reputation Duncan Keith. Both played on significantly better teams, and both scored more. However, the award is for top defenseman. Though Doughty does not have the scoring prowess of either of his fellow nominees, his 157 hits dwarfs the totals of Green (133) and Keith (46). In a slate that does not include Bobby Orr, I look for a skater who plays sound defense; his offensive success is distinctly secondary. For me, that is Drew Doughty.
Vezina Trophy (Top Goalie)
Ryan Miller – Call me a homer, I pick the Sabre to win. For Martin Brodeur, this is a career nomination. His career is matchless, but this season cannot match up to his competition. Ilya Bryzgalov was essential to the turnaround of the Coyotes this season, but he trails Miller in save percentage and goals against. In the end a goalie is supposed to make saves and prevent goals. Miller did it better than either of his fellow nominees, and he should win easily unless Brodeur gets some sort of career appreciation vote. Just 5 more Vezina wins, and he can tie Dominik Hasek for the Sabres record. Good luck with that.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
Tyler Myers – I almost picked Mike Duchene to avoid picking multiple Sabres to win, but Myers has the best numbers. It is a strange ballot, with one forward, one defenseman, and one goalie. They are, to say the least, hard to compare. However, the forward, Duchene, only scored 7 more points than the defenseman, Myers, and he trailed the Myers by 12 in plus/minus. A forward should dramatically outscore a defenseman, and Duchene did not. Jimmy Howard, the Red Wings goalie, played for a two-time defending Stanley Cup finalist, and he put up good but not great numbers. This is a team that took a mediocre goalie like Chris Osgood and turned him into a Stanley Cup champion. In this case, I fault Howard a bit because the Red Wings underperformed. An argument could be made for all three, and I think this is the most wide open of races, even more than the Hart. I would side with Myers.
I know this site is lacking in hockey fans, but any thoughts from anyone?