This morning as he readied himself for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the New York Rangers, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin also learned that he is a finalist for the 2012-13 Hart Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,” as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and the New York Islanders’ John Tavares are the other two finalists.
For Ovechkin, it’s the second time in as many days he has been named a finalist for a major NHL Award. He learned on Thursday that – along with Crosby and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis – he is a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award, presented annually to the “most outstanding player” as voted on by fellow members of the NHL Players’ Association.
Ovechkin and his teammates got off to a tough 2-8-1 start in 2012-13, and the captain got off to a sluggish start with five goals and 10 points in his first 16 games this season.
“It’s big,” says Ovechkin of being a finalist. “It was a hard year, a hard season for all of us. I’m happy to be in that kind of position.”
As the second half of the season approached, Ovechkin grew more comfortable playing in his new right wing position and the team began to better assimilate and play first-year coach Adam Oates’ system. Ovechkin scored 23 goals in Washington’s final 23 games, a stretch during which he helped lead the Capitals to a 17-4-2 record.
Four games into a grueling playoff series with the New York Rangers, the Caps are all even with the Blueshirts at 2-2. The pivotal Game 5 is tonight on Verizon Center ice.
The Rangers have held Ovechkin off the scoresheet in each of the last two games, both Rangers victories in New York. It’s the first time in Ovechkin’s Stanley Cup playoff career – a span of nine playoff series – that he has been held without a point by the same team in the same series.
That doesn’t concern him.
“I just want to win,” says Ovechkin. “It doesn’t matter if I’m going to score or not. In playoffs, it’s not about who’s scoring or beautiful plays, it’s all about who’s winning. Of course I want to score and I want to win when I’m scoring but right now the most important thing is to get the win.”
Ovechkin has won the Hart Trophy twice previously (2007-08 and 2008-09) and the Lindsay Award three times (’07-08, ’08-09 and 2009-10). He won his third Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2012-13. The Richard is awarded annually to the player who leads the NHL in goals. Ovechkin finished the season with 32 goals in 48 games.