I’m going to do something a little different at the beginning of this column. I’m going to rebut this article http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/why-nhl-awards-season-worst-trending-topics-152117385–nhl.html posted on Puck Daddy. Now in Puck Daddy’s defense most of the articles written by Greg Wyshynski are quiet good, this one was not written by him. Usually the other writers are… let’s just say not as good. There are three key things I’d like to rebut. First to summarize, this article is basically saying Sidney Crosby deserves the Hart over Alex Ovechkin and the race is not even close.

For instance, the argument you often hear — from the same morons who think a guy shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if he doesn’t win a Stanley Cup — about why Steven Stamkos shouldn’t have won the Hart last season, to cite a recent example, is that he couldn’t have been that valuable if his team didn’t make the playoffs. Never mind that he scored 60 goals and 97 points, Mathieu Garon couldn’t make a save, and that, therefore, is somehow on him.

This is great… First of all who says someone shouldn’t be in the hall of fame if they never won a Stanley Cup (or title)? I’ve never heard this argument in any sport… ever. Secondly was it Stamkos’ fault that Garon can’t make a save? No, it’s the GM’s fault (you Stevie Yzerman) for not surrounding him with talent. Having said that let’s look at his case this year. Do the Lightning suck with him? Yes. Would they suck without him? Yes. So basically he has no affect on how the Lighting play. They suck either way. There are no levels of sucktatude. Currently they are tied for being the 3rd worst team in the Eastern Conference. Would they be the worst team in the conference if it wasn’t for Stamkos? Probably. Does it really matter? No.

The forward who couldn’t buy a goal and was showered with criticism early on isn’t who he is, and neither is this guy who has something like 30 percent of his shots going in the net right now (don’t forget how hot Patrick Marleau was early on) You obviously can’t fault Ovechkin for going out there and demolishing the competition on the schedule, but before the Hart nominations start pouring in for the guy, and when almost a quarter of his goals this year are against the Florida Panthers, that seems important to keep in mind. It just seems hollow. And for those wondering, 35 of Stamkos’ 60 came in 49 games against playoff teams last year. But the argument does circle back to value to one’s team, and here, too, I’m not quite so sure Ovechkin has the edge. Without him, the Capitals are obviously not a playoff team, and with him, the Capitals are barely a playoff team in a race-to-the-bottom division the likes of which haven’t been seen in the NHL in quite some time. While it’s true that Ovechkin seems to be the only person on earth who wants to win the Southeast and guarantee a three-seed, and is therefore taking matters into his own hands the only way he can, I find it difficult to be all that impressed by it.

Let’s take the first sentence in this. I agree I gave Ovechkin a hard time early on as well but I was saying he just might not be a good fit in Adam Oates’ system. You can’t really fault Ovechkin for starting slow. He was playing for a new coach in a new system and he didn’t have any preseason or training camp because of the lockout and he was playing in Russia during that time in a completely different system and league. He’s not just going to out there and automatically score 50 goals.

Now I will agree that he plays in the weakest division and a lot of his goals came against a team that sucks but how is that his fault? You can only take advantage of what you are given. He doesn’t make the schedule or the divisions. Let’s see how Sidney Crosby did against the Panthers this season: 1 game, almost 23 minutes, no points. Hmm, well there you have it. Not as easy as it sounds sometimes. By this columnists opinion you would think Crosby would have had a hat trick against him.

Furthermore the more the Capitals win, the more they would make the playoffs even if they weren’t in the crappiest division of all time. They are currently the 6th best team in the Eastern conference by record.

Not while Sidney Crosby is sitting on the sidelines with a broken jaw, and his doing so seems to have transformed the Penguins from a juggernaut into a shuffling disaster that can’t beat anyone. Put another way, for those judging solely on the basis of how much better each makes his team: It’s hard to trust the Capitals to beat anyone in the playoffs regardless of Ovechkin’s participation in the series. The same can be said of a Crosby-less Penguins club, but with him they’re the clear favorites.

This is probably the dumbest thing ever written. So he’s trying to say with Sidney Crosby sidelined the Penguins are a shuffling disaster…………….. OKAY. They are 4-2 since he went down with his latest injury. That hardly qualifies as a disaster. I think the Capitals have a good chance to win this postseason because they won’t be the favorite they normally are. That takes the pressure off. Crosby is on the better team but the Capitals have the better goalie. Goalies matter more in the postseason than the regular season. It doesn’t matter how great Crosby is, if Fleury doesn’t play well they aren’t hoisting anything.

The bottom line, is Sidney Crosby the best player in the NHL? Yes, he has been for some time. Is he the most valuable player to his team? Well since he is the best player in the league in a way yes but he isn’t valuable enough to the team that if he goes down they can’t win without him. Is Alex Ovechkin more valuable to his team than Sidney Crosby is this year? Yes. Does that mean Ovechkin should win the Hart? No but I’d give him a better chance than Crosby. The important thing to remember is the Hart trophy is not supposed to be given to the best player in the league but to the player who is most valuable to his team.

Things I Like

1. The Dallas Stars currently sit in the 9th spot but have a game in hand over the Red Wings. The Stars have a great shot at making the playoffs despite the unloading of all their veterans and their captain. They’ve even won 5 in a row. Even if they don’t make the playoffs they have to feel good about their chances next season. The schedule isn’t favorable as they are playing playoff teams or teams hoping to get it.

2. We are pretty much guaranteed an original six matchup in the 1st round in the Eastern conference in the 4 versus 5 matchup. It will either be Montreal or Boston taking on Toronto. Boston and Toronto would be great, Montreal vs Toronto would be even better. Two Canadian stalwarts and hated rivals going at it. To add fuel to the fire, this is the first time in a long time the Maple Leafs will be in the playoffs and the Canadiens have a legit shot to make the Stanley Cup Finals.

3. On a personal note I’m pulling for the Winnipeg Jets to get in over the New York Rangers so bad. The 8th seed really comes down to them. I don’t have much stock in the Sabres or Devils getting in. The Islanders or Senators could slide down to 8th but they should both get in. The Rangers have the more favorable schedule as none of the teams they face should make the postseason. The Devils, twice, and Sabres are on the docket though. The Jets aren’t so lucky facing three teams that are getting in and the Sabres. The Rangers also have a game in head and a 2 point lead in the standings.

Things I Don’t

1. If you are a Ducks fan, like I am, you have to be worried. Even though they swept the Blackhawks this season and should get the 2nd seed out West, there’s a lot to worry about. Such as their back to back losses to the Red Wings who they might meet in the 1st round. Then there’s their recent loss at home to the Avalanche, the worst team in the league. Of their next six opponents only two are making or have a shot to make the playoffs. Which normally would make for an easy schedule but I’m not so sure. The Ducks seem to play down to their schedule which would make the 1st round of the playoffs their greatest hurdle.

2. When Jordan Staal signed with the Hurricanes last season to play with his brother I don’t think this is what he envisioned. The Hurricanes have the 2nd worst record in the East and have no shot of making the playoffs. To make matters worse, they were 1st in their division for much of the season. Jordan has only 9 goals and 26 points in 41 games with a -18, 2nd worse on the team. In his defense most players going into a new team or system this year did not fair well because of the lockout. Staal has recently said he knows he needs to play, and can play, better and plans on working on his game in the off season.

Fights of the Week

Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.

Brandon Prust vs Frazer McLaren

This was the best fight of the week which isn’t saying much. Notable effort by both for continuing the fight after spinning to the ground.

Antoine Roussel vs Rich Clune

This had the potential to be so much better than the 6 seconds it was.

Goat of the Week

Steve Sullivan – New Jersey Devils

Sullivan made a bad pass that gets intercepted and returned for a short handed goal in a wild game. The goal ended up being important since New Jersey bounced back but alas it was not enough as they continued their losing streak when they lost by one.

Stat Line of the Week

04/11/13 Pittsburgh 6 vs. Tampa Bay 3

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

PIM

J. Jokinen

14:35

2

1

2

3

0

In is debut game for his 5th team in his NHL career, Jussi Jokinen had two goals and an assist to pace the Penguins and prove that they can score a lot and win without Crosby. This also goes to show that Ray Shero has stocked his team well as they go for their second Stanley Cup in the Crosby/Malkin years.

Numbers, Numbers

9 – Game losing streak for the Devils at the wrong time of the season
.034 – The difference in SV% between current Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and former Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who is tops in the NHL minus injured Craig Anderson
5 – Goals in the past three games for Phil Kessel after having a 9 game goalless streak
11.6 – The power play scoring percentage of the Sabres, worst in the NHL
25:13 – Total time on ice average per game for Ilya Kovalchuk the only non defenseman in the top 30, one of the reasons for the Devils losing streak

This Week in Hockey History

Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.

April 8, 1994 Anaheim Mighty Ducks tied the NHL record for victories by a first-year team with their 32nd of the year, a 3-1 win at Edmonton. Patrik Carnback scored a goal and added an assist to lead the scoring.

April 9, 1977 Butch Goring scored a hat trick as the Kings beat Atlanta 4-2, to eliminate the Flames in the third and deciding game of the Stanley Cup Preliminary Round. L.A. went on to face Boston in the Quarter-Finals.

April 10, 1934 Chicago beat Detroit 1-0 in overtime of Game 4 of the Finals to win the 1934 Stanley Cup. Chuck Gardiner got the shutout & “Mush” March got the winner on a PPG at 30:05 of OT to give the Hawks their first Cup (in their eighth season in the NHL).

April 11, 1977 Montreal’s Guy Lafleur scored a hat trick and added three assists to lead the Canadiens to a 7-2 win over the visiting St. Louis Blues, in Game 1 of the Quarter-Finals.

April 12, 1992 Dale Hawerchuk picked up three assists to give him 71 for the year, breaking the team record of 69, set by Gilbert Perreault, in a 3-1 Sabres’ win over Montreal.

April 13, 2004 Miikka Kiprusoff recorded his first career playoff shutout in the Flames 4-0 win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks, in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. Calgary scored twice within a span of 27 seconds in the second period.

April 14, 1968 Bobby Schmautz scored a goal from 90 feet out, and added an assist to lead the Black Hawks to a 2-1 win over the Rangers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Quarter-Finals, at New York.

Rankings

The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.

Top 5
1. Washington
2. Pittsburgh
3. NY Islanders
4. Toronto
5. Chicago

Bottom 5
30. New Jersey
29. Carolina
28. Nashville
27. Colorado
26. Calgary

Alex Mueller

Author: Alex Mueller

Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.

Alex MuellerWeekly RecapsAdam Oates,Alex Ovechkin,Anaheim Ducks,Antoine Roussel,Brandon Prust,Craig Anderson,Dallas Stars,Florida Panthers,Frazer McLaren,Ilya Bryzgalov,Ilya Kovalchuk,Jordan Staal,Jussi Jokinen,Mathieu Garon,Miikka Kiprusoff,New Jersey Devils,New York Rangers,Patrick Marleau,Phil Kessel,Pittsburgh Penguins,Recap,Rich Clune,Sergei Bobrovsky,Sidney Crosby,Stanley Cup,Steve Sullivan,Steven Stamkos,Tampa Bay Lightning,Vancouver Canucks,Washington Capitals,Winnipeg Jets
I'm going to do something a little different at the beginning of this column. I'm going to rebut this article http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/why-nhl-awards-season-worst-trending-topics-152117385--nhl.html posted on Puck Daddy. Now in Puck Daddy's defense most of the articles written by Greg Wyshynski are quiet good, this one was not written by him. Usually...