If the season ended today,
who would be NHL MVP?
My old pal Eric Mc over at Off Wing Opinion has been running the poll seen above (which is, I think, operational on this site) for a week or so now. After 250-plus votes, Mr. Jaromir Jagr is well in the lead.
I'll admit it'll be a tight vote, but mine at this point is cast for Calgary Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff, who, with Dominik Hasek injured, will likely run away with this year's Vezina Trophy (with a nod to rookie Henrik Lundqvist). (When I say Kiprusoff will run away with it, keep in mind that the only teams that have scored fewer goals than the Flames this season are Chicago and Columbus. If that's not valuable, I haven't a clue what is.)
Nearly on par with Kiprusoff and Jagr this year, however, is a guy who's not getting enough pub for the way he's played. (Until now of course.)
If, indeed, the Hart Trophy bidding is a three-horse race, the man pulling into third spot should be Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom. (And if Joe Thornton wills the Sharks into the playoffs, he'll be there, too. Four horses. Neigh.)
Already a three-time Norris Trophy winner, it's about time Lidstrom gets mention as one of the best players in the game. Here's my case:
- On pace for 86 points this season (discounting two missed games), Lidstrom's tied for 20th in NHL scoring. With 55 assists, he's tied for third-best in helpers. 86 points? That's the best total by a defenceman since Sergei Zubov had 89 in 1993-94 — 12 years ago.
- That wouldn't be as impressive if Lidstrom was simply an assist-garnering demon, the puck-passing equivalent of the tennis-ball machine. No, far from it, as he's one of the best defensive players in the league and matches up against the opposition's top team every night. He also leads the league in average ice time, playing nearly 28 and a half minutes per game.
- For some reason, defencemen get short shrift when it comes to the end-of-season awards, and the Hart is no exception. Prior to Chris Pronger's win in 1999-2000, the last blueliner to pick up hockey's MVP award was Bobby Orr in 1971-72. Surely there have been more defencemen worthy of consideration for the award — and this year, in fact, there is.
Labels: Bobby Orr