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NHL Awards tracker: Russian vs. Russian

A week by week look at where the race for the major individual NHL awards stands and which Caps could be in contention.

Alex Ovechkin remains a dark horse for the Hart Trophy because he remains atop the NHL in goals helping to boost a Caps' offense that has been inconsistent this season. But he may not be in the lead for long.

Evgeni Malkin of the rival Pittsburgh Penguins is on a hot streak and has pulled to within two goals of his fellow Russian countryman. In his last five games alone, Malkin has found the back of the net nine times. That's an unsustainable pace, but it has propelled him to second in the NHL with a lot of time left to catch Ovechkin.

Just yet another storyline to watch between the rival teams.

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fourth among all defensemen with 41 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With two rookies on the blue line and an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Braden Holtby

In contention for: Vezina

Holtby sits third in the NHL in wins with 27 in 39 games played. The two goalies who boast more wins, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Connor Hellebuyck, have also played in more games (45 and 44 games, respectively).

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Ovechkin still leads the NHL in goals with 32. Yes, Malkin is hot on his heels, but it should be noted that even with nine goals in a span of five games, Malkin still trails Ovechkin by two. That's how good Ovechkin has been.

Barry Trotz

In contention for: Jack Adams

Let's turn the clock back to before the season. No one knew what to expect from the Caps. Maybe they were a playoff team, maybe they weren't. The fact that Barry Trotz has coached this team to first place in the Metropolitan Division at this point, especially given the injuries the team faced earlier in the season, may be a bigger surprise than it would have been if the Caps were on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. So long as Vegas continues winning, Gerard Gallant is going to win this award, but a case can be made that this is Trotz's best season since coming to Washington.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!