It’s been two weeks since our last Hart Trophy Watch, so here we go again.
1. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim
The big Ducks center holds his No. 1 ranking and for good reason. Known for his playmaking, Getzlaf is still scoring goals and is on pace to blow his previous career high of 25 out of the wire. Heck, he topped out at 29 in junior, but could go well past 30 this season. He is now on a 16-game point streak, during which the Ducks have 10 wins. Big difference between him and Perry: Getzlaf has the second-most penalty-kill minutes among Anaheim forwards.
2. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
The best player in the world and leading NHL point-getter also hangs on to his ranking from our last Hart Watch. What can you say about this guy that hasn’t already been said? I mean, if Chris Kunitz makes the Canadian Olympic team it’s because of Crosby. Is there any other player in the NHL getting a linemate Olympic attention who would otherwise be miles from the discussion? Crosby averages the most ice time per game among all NHL forwards.
3. Patrick Kane, Chicago
Teammate Toews may have the more rounded game, but Kane has managed to tip the scales with his explosive production. Second in points behind only Crosby, Kane also have five game-winning goals. He’s the engine driving Chicago’s offence. In his past 83 regular season NHL games, Kane has 42 goals and 100 points.
4. Alex Ovechkin, Washington
The NHL’s goal scoring leader by a wide five-goal margin, Ovechkin also ranks third among all NHL forwards in average ice time. It’s well-documented how often Ovechkin shoots the puck (he has a league-leading 164 right now), but he also makes them worth it. Of the top forward shot-getters in the NHL, Ovechkin’s 16.5 shooting percentage isn’t topped until Alexander Steen’s 21.2 percent, which he’s earned on 104 shots.
5. Carey Price, Montreal
The most likely No. 1 goalie for Team Canada, Price has faced the fourth-most shots this season, behind Mike Smith Ondrej Pavelec and Ryan Miller. None of them will earn MVP honors with their numbers, but Price should be in the thick of Hart talk. His .935 SP ranks third, behind two goalies with fewer games and shots faces, while his 2.00 GAA is simply ridiculous. The Habs are second in the Atlantic Division today, but would be a few slots further down theist without Price.
6. Alex Steen, St. Louis
OK, so some of the lister has rubbed off Steen’s start, but who was expecting him to keep up a torrid pace on offense anyway? Steen has nine points in his past 13 games, but still pulls down major minutes for one of the top teams in the NHL. By the time we roll out our next Hart Watch in 2014, Steen’s teammate David Backes might outrank him.
7. Josh Harding, Minnesota
Don’t just glance at Harding’s numbers and trash me for ranking him No. 7 in terms of MVP value. The Wild allow 24.5 shots per game, which is the lowest in the NHL and is a full shot better than No. 2 St. Louis. Though Harding has an incredible .939 SP, he’s also only faced 605 shots, which ranks 22nd and puts him behind 11 goalies who haven’t even played as many games yet. That said, his numbers (1.49 GAA) are astounding and more than worthy of inclusion on this list and serious discussion on how he should be considered. Harding has allowed three goals four times this season and hasn’t let more than that get by him in a single game yet,
8. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay
Acquired for Cory Conacher last season, no one saw this kind of season coming from Bishop. A .933 SP and 1.97 GAA rank him in the top five of both categories for a team that allows the 14th most shots-against per game. He’s a popular dark horse choice to man the net for Team USA in Sochi and is finally providing the Lightning with a shut down presence that will accentuate a Stamkos-led offense and is keeping the team on track in his absence.
9. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles
Look at the top forwards in shorthanded time on ice per game in the NHL and you’ll see a list of specialists until you get to Kopitar at No. 29. The only “elite” player to appear on the first page of this list on NHL.com, Kopitar also wins 55.5 percent of his faceoffs, good for 14th in the league. With 11 goals and 29 points, he also leads the Kings in both offensive categories. He’s a Hart Trophy long shot, but at the very least should get some Selke love this year.
10. Jonathan Toews, Chicago
When a teammate of yours appears on this list, you either show up very low, or not at all. Good thing for Toews, he’s Mr. Everything. A two-way great who wins 57.3 percent of his draws and has 32 points in 36 games. If it wasn’t for Kane, Toews could rank way higher on this list, but you can’t have two MVPs on one team.