Carey Price could be adding another piece of hardware to his trophy case this spring.
Just a year removed from his gold medal performance and being named “best goaltender” at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Montreal Canadiens netminder is a favourite to be recognized for his work at the NHL Awards this June.
In a poll of hockey fans and bloggers, 57 per cent say Price should be named the Hart Trophy winner – the NHL’s MVP – if the annual award show were to be held today.
Price is having a career year, and will surely be considered for the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) and the Ted Lindsay Award (MVP as voted by the players). His 33 votes top the next highest vote-getter, the NHL’s goal-scoring leader Alexander Ovechkin, who had seven. John Tavares, the NHL’s points leader was at third with six votes. Fifty eight people voted in the poll.
Other players to receive votes included Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk (two), Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (four), Calgary’s Mark Giordano (one), Florida’s Roberto Luongo (two), and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (three).
Non-forwards rarely receive consideration for the Hart Trophy – only three have been given the award in the past 20 years: former Buffalo goaltender Dominik Hasek (twice, 1996/1997 & 1997/1998), former St. Louis Blues defenceman Chris Pronger, (1999/2000), and José Théodore, also a Canadiens goaltender, in 2001/2002.
The Canadiens are among the NHL’s weakest puck-possession teams, sitting in the league’s bottom-10 in five-on-five situations in both Corsi and Fenwick statistics. They also have trouble finding goals from their depth players – only one player, Max Pacioretty, has more than 20 goals – which is something that would concern the coaching, management, and fans of any top NHL team.
However, this is largely masked by Price’s play, as the Habs currently sit second in the NHL’s overall standings. Price leads the league in save percentage, goals-against average, and wins.
These stats obviously were factors in the poll.
“Every team has an MVP, but not every MVP decides whether his team excels or completely tanks,” said poll respondent, Dave Hamilton, “Price IS the Canadiens team this year.”
Twitter user @arguela15 can’t see another MVP scenario at this point:
@BradMac91 seriously, if anyone doesn’t choose Price, I question their sanity (and I guess Luongo too for that matter if Florida makes it)
— Ashley Arguelles (@arguela15) March 8, 2015
Price is having what one may call an insanely good season. The NHL’s league average save percentage is .914. Price’s is .936 – which is comparable to, or better than, Hasek and Theodore’s MVP seasons. His 37 wins are already more than either recorded those years with 16 games remaining. Count on Price to start most of them.
Despite Carey Price’s dominance, there are several other NHLers that are totally worthy of being named the league’s most valuable player.
Tavares is the league’s top point-scorer and is leading the way for a scary New York Islanders team that has spent the past 25 years in the dark. Three-time MVP Alexander Ovechkin, is (somehow) playing the best hockey of his career – and that is really saying something – on the best Capitals team he has ever been a part of. Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne is backstopping a team that missed the playoffs by three points last year and is now leading them to what will likely be a top-5 finish when the dust settles on the regular season.
Strong, reasonable, support came in for them as well.
One respondent backs Tavares because “without him, NYI would be a bubble team,” and another said without their captain, the Islanders “wouldn’t come close to making the playoffs.” I disagree that the Islanders would miss the playoffs without him, as they’re a really strong team, but they certainly wouldn’t be at the top of the league.
Improvements made in Ovechkin’s game were noticed, with one reader saying “Head Coach Barry Trotz has been able to keep all the best of Ovi while helping him round out his game” and another points out the Washington superstar should win because “goals are the most important statistic.”
The contrast between last season and this season for the Nashville Predators was pointed out by several Rinne supporters.
Devan Dubnyk was not originally included in this poll.
After a poor start to the season in Arizona, he was traded to a desperate Minnesota Wild team. That’s when everything changed.
Just a few months ago, the Wild looked like they would miss the playoffs – far below expectations for a team of their calibre – but are now one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Dubnyk is ninth in the NHL in wins, third for save percentage, and fourth in shutouts. He also has the league’s second-best goals-against average.
He is the Wild’s saviour, and has likely found a home in Minnesota after some tumultuous years in Edmonton, Nashville, and Arizona. The team’s other two options in goal prior to him sported .908 (bad) and .889 (really bad) save percentages, respectively.
With some gentle prodding, hockey blogger @CataCarryOn convinced me:
Adding that he “took the Minnesota Wild from the bottom ten (and sinking) to not only a playoff berth, but a comfortable playoff berth. Went from dropping 5 and 6 games straight to an 18-3-2 record.”
If anything, Dubnyk is the Minnesota Wild’s MVP.
Odds and ends
– Players that received zero votes were: Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, Dallas’ Tyler Seguin, St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko, and Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek.
– The last time a goalie won the Hart Trophy, another was a finalist as well. This really surprised me. Theodore won it, and Patrick Roy finished third. The Coyotes’ Sean Burke finished fourth!
– Fifty eight voters and not a single vote went to Tyler Seguin. Before getting hurt on February 13, he was my MVP pick and was the league’s third leading scorer. Dallas struggled in the 10 games he missed, only winning three times without the centre. He returned ahead of schedule on Saturday night and scored two goals.
– The only reason I bring up Seguin not getting any votes is that Mark Giordano – now out for the season with his own injury – got one. The reason being “he was instrumental in helping the Flames get to where they are this year.” It is difficult to argue with that, he has been the Flames’ best player this year and likely would’ve been the Norris Trophy winner this spring. I’m surprised someone didn’t apply the same logic to Seguin who is healthy again, and will surely help the Stars push for the postseason.
– Would the Florida Panthers be in any more trouble without Roberto Luongo than if the Canadiens lost Price?