Crosby for the Hart?Posted: 11/05/2013
The question I’d like to bring before you today is simple: should Sidney Crosby win the Hart Trophy for regular season MVP?
I think that it’s a worthy question to consider, especially given the two guys he’s facing in the Trophy race in scoring-extraordinaire Alex Ovechkin and the gritty find-a-way-to-get-it-done John Tavares.
Let’s start by looking at what Crosby did during the regular season. Let’s not forget that the Hart Trophy is only consider the body of work done in the regular season.
I look across his number and they tell an incredible story. 56 points in 36 games, good enough 1.55 points per game. He alos logged a solid 21 minutes per night. He also boasted a 20.9 Goals Versus Threshold, which was second only to Jonathan Toews and some of the leagues top Goaltenders (including Vezina finalists Niemi, Bobrovski, and Lundqvist as well as regular season standouts Craig Anderson and Tuuka Rask.) All in all, Crosby had a good year.
I think that more than anything Crosby brought a presence to the ice that was unmistakable. He forced teams to account for him with every shift, whether he touched the puck or not. He also saw some added time on the penalty kill as a faceoff/transition to full strength man. Crosby also saw a career high plus/minus rating with +26. The Pens lit the lamp a league-leading 162 times. Crosby’s figured into 56 of them, good enough for 34.57%. Pretty good.
All together, Crosby acted like he was supposed to this year. He finished fourth in the league in scoring, despite playing 12 fewer games. He was great.
The Great 8 saw a lackluster beginning his his season, but thanks to a stellar second half of the season brought home the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals scored in a season with 32. Ovi scored only 8 times in the Caps’ first 19 games. He scored 24 in their final 29 games of the season. Unreal.
What was surprising to me was his stat line across Win/Loss scoring.
In the 27 games the Caps won, he scored a ridiculous 46 times. Compare that to the lowly 10 points he scored when they lost their 21 across the season. What this tells me is that when Ovechkin scored, the Caps won. When he didn’t score, they lost. His 27 PP points (16 G, 11A) was best in the league both in goals and points. Well, he tied with Mike Ribiero for PP points, but they’re on the same unit so it’s fine.
Washing scored 146 times. Ovi figured into 56 of them, or 38.36% of his teams goals. That’s pretty wild when you consider that he only had 15 points through 19 games to start the season. What it comes down to for me is Ovi’s scoring by decision. When he scored, the Caps won. The only downside was Ovechkin’s Plus/Minus at 2. Not great.
So this kid is 21, and has almost single-handedly pulled the Islanders out of the cellar of the Eastern Conference. He led the Isles this year with 48 points (or 47, depending on where you look on ESPN…) and 28 Goals. He mounted a 17.3% shot percentage, was dangerous on the powerplay, and contributed 5 GWG.
The Isles scored 135 times this year, and Tavares contributed to 48 of them, or 35.56%. Not higher than Ovechkin, but for a team that scored far less often, it seems like his production was highly important. Much like Crosby, Tavares saw some short handed time on ice as a transition to even strength/faceoff guy. He was also lethal on the powerplay. Like Ovechkin, Tavares scoring by decision was very lopsided. 34 of his 47 points came in the 24 games the Isles won.
In summary, Tavares makes the most of his opportunities, and capitalizes on other teams’ mistakes. Pens fans have had the pleasure of witnessing that first hand during the first round of the playoffs. While he isn’t as statistically as padded as #87 or #8, he has been crucial to his time.
As much as it pains me to say it, I think this is a two man race between Ovechkin and Tavares. The thing which kills my argument for Crosby is his team. If you noticed, I was able to say for both Tavares and Ovechkin that their scoring mirrored their team’s winning. In Crosby’s absence, the Pens were able to continue on to a 15-game win streak and lock down the number 1 seed in Eastern Conference while almost overtaking the Hawks for the President’s Trophy.
Had Crosby been healthy, this would have been a much different conversation. He played 12 fewer games than either Tavares or Ovechkin and still scored as much as either. But the fact that his team was able to pull away puts the nail in the coffin for me. If Ovechkin doesn’t go off in the final 30 games of the regular season do the Caps make the playoffs? No. If Tavares doesn’t will the Islanders to victory practically every night, do the Isles make the playoffs? No. If Crosby doesn’t play the final 12 games of the season do the Pens still lock down a #1 seed? Yes they do. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sidney Crosby. He’s a once in a generation player. But does he deserve the award for MVP of this regular season? No.