KANATA, Ontario -- Adam Oates got the ball rolling on Tuesday night when he said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin “absolutely” deserved consideration as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player this season.
Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson added some fuel to that fire when asked about what has become an interesting race for this year’s Hart Trophy.
Alfredsson said Senators goalie Craig Anderson, who leads the NHL in goals-against average [1.55] and save percentage [.949] would warrant consideration if he didn’t miss 18 games with injuries.
Which brings us to the debate between Ovechkin, who has played in all 43 games for the Capitals and leads the NHL with 28 goals, and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who still leads the NHL with 56 points but has not played since breaking his jaw on March 30.
“Crosby was a no-brainer until he got injured again,” Alfredsson said. “And then you look at the way Ovechkin is playing now and how he turned things around for his team.”
Ovechkin leads the NHL with 198 shots and has 19 goals and nine assists in his last 18 games.
“He’s been playing unbelievable and one of the reasons they’ve turned things around,” Alfredsson said.
“I don’t have an explanation on why that is. They have a new coaching staff this year and maybe it took a while to get everything together. But they’re obviously playing pretty good. Winning eight in a row is pretty impressive. We’re trying to ride our own streak and do our best to destroy theirs.”
Alfredsson said it’s Ovechkin’s quick release that makes him one of the game’s most feared players.
“He gets his shot off so quick,” he said. “He just needs two-tenths of a second and it’s a great scoring chance. Our defense has to be alert tonight and your forwards have to be tracking back really hard and putting pressure on him.”