Best in the World?

In case you missed it Tuesday, the NHL nominated Ovechkin and two other guys for the Hart Trophy. The Capitals’ captain and centerman is up against Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Calgary’s Jarome Iginla.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure they only added Malkin and Iginla because they had to have three nominees.

Yes, yes, I’m solidly in favor of Ovechkin snagging this trophy, despite being a solid Penguins supporter. But I also acknowledge talent; Ovechkin personifies the essence of the Hart and he deservedly should win it.

It’s indeed fortunate that Washington made it to the playoffs – I highly doubt Ovie would’ve been nominated otherwise, though that travesty would’ve been unforgivable, I think.

We’ll find out for sure on June 12 in Toronto, when the 2008 NHL awards are doled out. And if you didn’t know, Nicklas Backstrom is up for the Calder Trophy for top rookie, too – but he’s going to lose that to Chicago’s Jonathan Toews.

Another Capitals member is an awards finalist – Bruce Boudreau was tagged today as a Jack Adams finalist, which goes to the coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success.” Boudreau replaced Glen Hanlon in late November last year, where the Caps lay belly-up in the Southeast cellar at 6-14-1. Since then, he led the Caps to a 37-17-7 regular season mark (with seven straight wins at the end of the season) and three hard-fought playoff wins before succumbing to the Flyers in Game Seven. He was also the fastest coach to 20 victories (34 games) in Caps history.

Ovie’s already snapped up the titles for most goals (65) and points (112) on the season. The sole reason the Caps even made it into the playoffs by a hair was because Ovechkin carried them on his back. If Ovie wasn’t playing, the Caps would deservedly be in the dregs of the league along with Tampa and L.A.

Ignila makes sense as a nominee – second career 50+ goal season, 98 points total, and spearheading the Flames’ own run into the playoffs. But he didn’t electrify his team or the home crowds like Ovechkin did.

The sole player at a shot of sneaking away with the Hart is the Penguins’ Malkin. And really, despite locking in 106 points with 47 goals – 46 points and 20 goals during a 28 game stretch that kept the Penguins on playoff afterburners when Crosby went down – the only real reason he could skate away with it is if the Penguins win the Cup.

But even I don’t think that’s likely to happen. I foresee quite the Caps ‘sweep’ of the awards in June.

So my heartfelt congratulations to Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps for an electrifying season. I truly hope you all keep that fire lit for next year; it’ll make some awesome match ups for me and my Penguin friends to look forward to.

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