Gotta Be Willing to Change Your Mind
Somehow a stance against considering players from non-playoff teams for the Hart Trophy got twisted into an anti-Alex Ovechkin position along the way.
Well, no matter. It's not an argument any more.
Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals did make the playoffs, which eliminated the non-playoff team argument.
He's in. They're in. And that makes him the odds-on favorite for the Hart.
Where he fits on a ballot - you have to vote for the top five - depends on many factors, and to acknowledge Ovechkin's excellence while lifting his team to the post-season should not in any way diminish the outstanding achievements of a whole whack of NHL stars.
Nicklas Lidstrom. Martin Brodeur. Jarome Iginla. Evgeny Malkin. Scott Niedermayer. Brian Campbell. Alexei Kovalev.
But 65 goals is a whole pile of goals at a time when a 20-goal man is considered a sniper.
It's clearly good for the game that Ovechkin and the Caps made it, and it will be interesting now to see how the Philadelphia (Why Take One Suspension When You Can Take Five?) Flyers will approach defending the Russian winger. The Flyers had some success against Pittsburgh earlier this season by having Mike Richards get into Sidney Crosby's grill, and you can bet John Stevens' game plan won't be passive.
Moreover, the Flyers had the better record this season, although they weren't nearly as hot down the stretch.
But the Caps are about more than just Ovechkin. Mike Green and his Paul Coffey-like approach to playing defence is a player who just isn't talked about enough. Alexander Semin has great skills. Sergei Fedorov may have some gas left. Cristobal Huet has taken the No. 1 goaltending job away from Olaf Kolzig. And the Caps are the NHL's biggest team.
So this will be a fascinating series to watch.
The Hart vote? Ovechkin will certainly be on my ballot. Just exactly where on my ballot will take some thinking.
But 65 goals are a whole pile of goals, particularly when that hot stick is heading to the Stanley Cup playoffs.