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Hart Trophy Watch: Alex Ovechkin jumps in front

Alex Ovechkin leads the league with seven points through four games. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Alex Ovechkin leads the league with seven points through four games. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

If the first week of the season is any indication, Alex Ovechkin took some serious umbrage to Henrik Sedin interrupting his run of consecutive Hart Trophies at two.

Not only is Ovechkin leading the league in scoring, he potted the winner in two of the Capitals’ three victories this season, including one in overtime.

Sedin, on the other hand, is making a spirited run to keep the Hart in the family, but this time it’s Daniel who is the more productive half of the twin threat. Had Daniel not been hurt last season, there’s a good chance he would have battled Henrik for the scoring championship and with three goals and five points in just three games, Daniel has been one of the bright spots in a surprisingly feeble Canucks offense.

And what about Sidney Crosby? For the better part of two periods, he was dreadful in a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the entire Penguins roster seems to be in doldrums, especially at their new home. We’re betting it won’t last.

We’re early in the year – very early in the year – so there’s a lot up in the air still, but we can start the runners towards the Hart based on their pre-season projection and what they’ve put on their resume so far.

And remember, everyone, it’s really, really early. There are guys we’ll mention in this who likely won’t be anywhere near the Hart Trophy when it’s handed out in June. There will be others who have gotten off to a slow start, but we feel confident will pick up their games. There are others not mentioned, such as Clarke MacArthur and Todd Bertuzzi, whom we’re pretty sure are just off to a red-hot start and likely won’t sustain it. If they do, they’ll find their way onto the list later in the year.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Ovechkin has typically been a slow starter, but he has recorded at least one point in each of the Capitals’ first four games so far, including a two-goal, one-assist effort in a 7-2 win over the New Jersey Devils Oct. 9. He had 19:17 of ice time in that contest, his lowest amount of minutes in the four games he’s played so far.

THE HOCKEY NEWS HART TROPHY WATCH
RK.
TEAM
PLAYER
MAKING THE CASE
1
Washington Capitals
The big guy almost always plays like a man possessed, but Ovechkin seems to be taking Washington’s playoff failures personally now. Not good news for the rest of the league.
2
Carolina Hurricanes
Cam Ward The Hurricanes are giving up an average of 36.7 shots a game and have won two of three, in large part because Ward has bailed them out. No shortage of spectacular saves, either.
3
Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos Stamkos shared the Rocket Richard Trophy last season with Crosby, but looks intent on keeping it for himself this time around. And the way he has scored so far this season is proving he has a lot more than just a big shot.
4
Dallas Stars
Brad Richards The Stars have shocked the hockey world by getting off to a 3-0-0 start, thanks in large part to Richards. After a couple of years of floundering, Richards is busting his way back into star status.
5
Chicago Blackhawks
Marian Hossa Hossa has always been one of the best two-way players in the league, but early on he has been providing a big spark of offense. If he can keep up the production, his all-round play will keep him in contention for the Hart all season.
6
Vancouver Canucks
Daniel Sedin As we mentioned, the Canucks have not exactly exploded out of the gate looking like a Stanley Cup contender, but Sedin has provided some timely scoring for them.
7
Vancouver Canucks
Henrik Sedin With four assists, he is almost always at the other end of his twin brother’s goals. But Henrik won the Hart last season because he also showed he could score goals. It is strange, however, to see both Sedins as minus players in the early going.
8
Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby He certainly hasn’t put in an MVP performance so far, but he’s there every year and we have no doubt he’ll get his game together, and so will his team.
9
Philadelphia Flyers
Sergei Bobrovsky Don’t laugh. This guy might just be the answer to the Flyers age-old goaltending problems. He’s off to a 2-0 start with a .931 SP and 2.00 GAA.
10
Nashville Predators
Steve Sullivan The veteran is back to good health and on a Nashville team that always struggles to produce offense, Sullivan has been a big reason why the Predators got out of the gate undefeated in three games.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
: The Minnesota Wild will struggle to score goals all season, but Mikko Koivu is the lone exception. The ever-improving captain of the Wild has five points in his first three games and looks poised to bust out in a big way this season. Other notables: Ryan Getzlaf, Derek Roy.

THN.com's Hart Trophy Watch will appear monthly throughout the season and don't miss out as we'll also track the Vezina, Norris and Jack Adams.

Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear every Monday throughout the season.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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