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Wanna bet on who wins the Hart Trophy?

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Wanna bet on who wins the Hart Trophy?

If you believe the odds coming out of Las Vegas, where the NHL will stage its annual awards show from the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino tonight [7 p.m. NBCSN], Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has the best chance of winning the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player.

If it happens he’ll become the first goalie to win the award since former Capitals netminder Jose Theodore did so with the Canadiens in 2002.  

But that’s not how I selected. As a long-time member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, I am given the annual privilege of voting for five of the NHL’s top player awards, along with my selections for post-season All-Star and All-Rookie teams. We are asked to provide five players, in order of preference, for each of the five individual awards.

For better or worse, here’s how I voted:

HART TROPHY [MVP]
Alex Ovechkin
Carey Price
John Tavares
Jamie Benn
Sidney Crosby
NORRIS TROPHY [Top Defenseman]
P.K. Subban
Ryan McDonagh
Erik Karlsson
Shea Weber
Ryan Suter
CALDER TROPHY [Top Rookie]
Aaron Ekblad
Johnny Gaudreau
Filip Forsberg
Jake Allen
Kevin Hayes
LADY BYNG TROPHY [Most Gentlemanly]
Nicklas Backstrom
Steven Stamkos
Rick Nash
Daniel Sedin
Patrice Bergeron
SELKE TROPHY [Top Two-way Forward]
Max Pacioretty
Nicklas Backstrom
Tyler Johnson
Derek Stepan
Jonathan Toews
NHL ALL-STAR TEAM
CENTER -- John Tavares, Nicklas Backstrom, Sidney Crosby
RIGHT WING -- Vladimir Tarasenko, Jakub Voracek, Nikita Kucherov
LEFT WING -- Alex Ovechkin, Rick Nash, Jamie Benn
DEFENSE -- P.K. Subban, Ryan McDonagh, Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber, 
Ryan Suter, John Carlson.
GOALTENDER -- Carey Price, Braden Holtby, Pekka Rinne
NHL ALL-ROOKIE TEAM

FORWARD -- Johnny Gaudreau, Filip Forsberg, Kevin Hayes

DEFENSE -- Aaron Ekblad, John Klingberg
GOAL -- Jake Allen

As for the Vegas odds on all of the major awards, here you go, for entertainment purposes, of course:

Odds to win Hart Memorial Trophy    

Carey Price (MON)                     1/20     

Alexander Ovechkin (WAS)        5/1       

John Tavares (NYI)                    10/1     

Odds to win Vezina Trophy   

Carey Price (MON)                     1/100   

Pekka Rinne (NAS)                    13/2     

Devan Dubnyk (MIN)                 11/1     

Odds to win James Norris Memorial Trophy  

Erik Karlsson (OTT)                   1/4       

P K Subban (MON)                    11/4     

Drew Doughty (LA)                    6/1        

Odds to win Calder Memorial Trophy

Johnny Gaudreau (CAL) 1/2       

Aaron Ekblad (FLA)                   7/4       

Mark Stone (OTT)                      5/1       

Odds to win Lady Byng Memorial Trophy      

Anze Kopitar (LA)                      5/11     

Pavel Datsyuk (DET)                 12/5     

Jiri Hudler (CAL)                        4/1       

Odds to win Frank J. Selke Trophy    

Patrice Bergeron (BOS)             2/9       

Jonathan Toews (CHI)                7/2       

Anze Kopitar (LA)                      5/1       

Odds to win Jack Adams Award        

Bob Hartley (CAL)                     2/11     

Alain Vigneault (NYR)                4/1       

Peter Laviolette (NSH)               5/1       

Odds to win Ted Lindsay Award        

Carey Price (MON)                     2/7       

Alexander Ovechkin (WAS)        5/2       

Jamie Benn (DAL)                     6/1        

 

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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