A Fascinating Debate
So if I were to make a case for Sidney Crosby to win the Hart Trophy this season, it would go something along these lines.
Obviously he's having a tremendous season, including his best goal-scoring campaign ever with 49 goals as of today. If you believe goals matter more than points, and certainly second assists are given out like candy in the NHL, than Crosby's numbers heading into the final weekend are unassailable.
He's also pretty much doing it alone.
In Washington, Alexander Ovechkin is the best player on the best team and the argument may begin and end there. Ovechkin, it should be noted, has Nicklas Backstrom to play with every night, and somehow Backstrom is still flying below the radar in terms of elite NHLers. This guy is fabulous, and controls the puck as well as anybody outside of Pavel Datsyuk. The Caps have seven 20-goal scorers and will have eight if Mike Green can find the net one more time.
In Vancouver, Henrik Sedin plays every shift with his twin brother, Daniel. In fact, the two are clearly locked in some sort of Star Trek-like, Vulcan mind thing. Quite extraordinary. The focus is on whether Henrik should be a Hart candidate, or even the winner, but less attention has been paid to the fact that Daniel's season, on a points per game basis, is nearly as good as his brother's, but in fewer games. The story out of Vancouver should be less about Henrik and more about the twins finally becoming the dynamic one-two punch that Brian Burke believed they would become when he pulled off all those moves on draft day 11 years ago to land them.
Crosby, by comparison, is the Lone Ranger. His linemates are usually Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz, hardy NHL workers, but neither a top-end NHL sniper. Of Crosby's teammates, only Evgeny Malkin has more than 50 points, and only Malkin, Jordan Staal and Guerin have cracked the 20-goal barrier.
More than last year, this has been the Crosby Show pretty much every night. Whether that's enough to get him the Hart is up to the voters.