Photo credit: Greg Fiume
Alex Ovechkin is playing very well. He leads the league in goals, has tallied 18 times in his last 16 games, and is the single biggest reason the Washington Capitals are headed to the playoffs. We think he should win the Hart Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player. Adam Oates, we now learn, agrees.
“I’m obviously very biased about that,” he told reporters after Washington’s 5-1 win on Tuesday, a game in which Ovechkin scored. “My answer would be yeah, absolutely. Obviously Sidney Crosby is another candidate for sure. He had such a scoring lead. But I think you’ve gotta factor in the fact that he’s missed a lot of games.”
“But it’s not really for me to say though, it’s you guys,” he added, referring to the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association whose members vote on the award.
Oates, perhaps, is even more deserving of a trophy than Ovi. The first-time head coach has mentored Ovechkin masterfully, guiding him through a difficult switch from left to right wing. It was a change Oates firmly believed would make him a better player — and it has. Meanwhile, Oates’s 1-3-1 power play is has been key to the Great Eight’s success this year, with Ovi registering a league-topping 15 man-advantage goals (out of his 28 overall).
“Alex has really led our team,” Oates said. “You see it every night now. You saw his energy tonight. Every team that we play, they have to focus on him. He’s in a good place.”