- American dream dying, but many see free market as solution: Poll
- Air Force base in South Carolina boots Nativity scene
- Israel poised for a $173M boost from the U.S. for missile defense
- Leon Panetta named as source of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ scriptwriter’s information
- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
HARRIS: Alex Ovechkin’s MVP case bolstered with each Capitals win
Adam Oates coaches the Capitals, which means he coaches Alex Ovechkin. So of course he’s going to be “very biased” when discussing the Most Valuable Player candidacy of the man who has put the Caps on his back like a big ol’ piano and carried the team to the cusp of the NHL playoffs.
“Obviously, Alex has really led our team, and you see it every night now,” Oates said. “Obviously, every team that we play, they have to focus on him. And he’s in a good place and his linemates have played great for him and he’s helped them. I think that line has carried us … a lot of positive things.”
Bias aside, Oates makes some good points. The Caps have won eight straight going into Thursday’s game at Ottawa. They are 14-3-1 in their past 18. Ovechkin has 19 goals and eight assists in that stretch. He scored two goals in the team’s first 10 games. He now leads the league in goals
But Oates is biased. So let’s go outside the house, so to speak, and get some thoughts on whether Ovechkin has a realistic chance to add a third Hart Trophy (the NHL names everything) to his collection.
Stephen Whyno, The Times’ hockey writer, has a vote and would put the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby first and Ovechkin second if he had to vote now. Tough to argue that, though Oates says, “You have to factor in the fact [Crosby has] missed a lot of games.” Crosby still leads the NHL in scoring despite missing six games with a broken jaw.
This guy, who doesn’t have a vote, is wishy-washy. Crosby is a marvelous player who may be able to walk on water and then turn it into wine. We’re frankly a little surprised he hasn’t healed his own jaw already. But the award is for MVP of this season, not overall greatness. Crosby can’t be faulted for his team being strong all season. Ovechkin has lifted his team out of a serious hole, pretty much changed the whole tenor of the Caps’ play. That has to count for something.
From further away, former NHL executive and current NHL Network analyst Craig Button has watched plenty of Caps’ games. He marvels at the way Ovechkin has made some adjustments to his game. While Button won’t come out and declare Ovechkin the MVP at this point, he does say, “There’s no question he has to be one of the three finalists.
“The Alex Ovechkin I am watching today is not the Alex Ovechkin of three years ago. I think he’s better. I think he’s become multidimensional. He’s attacking from all over the ice. He is so much more challenging for defenses and opponents now. He comes at you from so many different ways.”
Button also has Crosby on his list — who wouldn’t? — along with Chicago’s Jonathan Toews. He’s also impressed with the way Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has played.
Button keeps coming back to the new Ovechkin.
“Alex has always been capable of making plays,” Button said. “You watch him come up the ice now, he’s slower sometimes. It isn’t just blazing down the left wing, cut into the middle and shoot. When you’re trying to convince someone they can be more dangerous, they can be better, that takes some time. That takes some convincing.”
That leads Button to another point. Does Washington have another candidate for one of the NHL’s major awards, one with the same initials as Ovechkin? Button pretty much gushes over the job Oates has done to help salvage the Capitals‘ season.
“One thing I haven’t heard is Adam Oates for coach of the year and I think he ought to be in that conversation,” Button said. “Alex has really found his way with Adam Oates. Adam has helped Alex become multidimensional.
“At times, I am leery of guys with no head coaching experience. Adam may be the exception to that rule. What he has done with that team? Brilliant. What I see right now in the Washington Capitals is a dangerous team.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Washington Times sports editor Mike Harris has more than 30 years experience in the business as a reporter, columnist and manager. He’s covered a wide variety of events including two Olympics, horse racing, auto racing, professional and college sports. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow the section on Twitter @WashTimesSports.
- HARRIS: Redskins left in limbo over $7 million question
- HARRIS: Visions of Robinson Cano under Nationals' tree
- Doing the roster math is a task Caps coach Adam Oates takes seriously
- HARRIS: There's always something you can put on your thankful list
- Martin Erat asks for trade as unproductive Caps stint appears soon to end
Latest Blog Entries
- Meet Connor Carrick, the youngster who played his way onto the Caps' final roster
- Go Aggies: Nationals notes and lineups for Sept. 14
- RG3: There is no conflict with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan
- Sunday Nats-Dodgers lineups and some thoughts from reliever Craig Stammen
- Nats vs. Dodgers: Chad Tracy and his .149 average back at first base
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- MILLER: Dick Heller challenges D.C.s gun registration, files for summary judgement in Heller II
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Human interest stories to feed interest, satisfy curiosity and see outside the box.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
News and views on the Civil War.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow