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NHL Awards tracker: Caps not getting as much love as they should be


NHL Awards tracker: Caps not getting as much love as they should be

After a crazy NHL season, there is a wide-open competition for several of the league's top awards. Two of the Caps' top players, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson, have done enough to at least warrant consideration, but there does not seem to be as much buzz around them as you would expect considering the types of seasons they have had.

Alex Ovechkin scored 49 goals to win his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy. He carried the Caps to ninth in the NHL in goals per game despite the team being dead last in shots per game. No player scored a higher percentage of his team's goals than Ovechkin's 18.8-percent. General manager Brian MacLellan made his case for Ovechkin's candidacy for the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP on Friday.

John Carlson's career year, meanwhile, should have him among the short-list of candidates for the Norris. Carlson played close to 30 minutes per game when Matt Niskanen was out of the lineup with an injury. His 68 points led all blueliners this season.


Considering that at the start of the season, it was unknown if Washington would even make the playoffs, the fact that Ovechkin and Carlson were able to help lead the Caps to their third straight Metropolitan Division title should certainly garner them consideration for the Hart and Norris respectively.

Yet, it does not seem like either player is getting much buzz.

See if you can spot who's missing from this list of candidates:

This is not to say Ovechkin and Carlson are the clear winners. The races for both the Hart and the Norris are so close that there are no frontrunners. But in a wide-open field, both players have done enough to at least warrant consideration and make a run at being a finalist. And neither may even get that far.

With the season over, here is one last look at the NHL Awards tracker.

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Alex Ovechkin's quest for 50 falls just short, but the Rocket Richard Trophy is a good consolation

Alex Ovechkin's quest for 50 falls just short, but the Rocket Richard Trophy is a good consolation

Alex Ovechkin assured himself of a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy with a pair of goals Saturday night, pushing his league-leading total to 49.

Ovechkin’s closest competition was Jets’ second-year sniper, Patrik Laine, who finished with 44 goals. (Las Vegas’ William Karlsson entered Saturday’s late game vs. Calgary with 43.)

Ovi finished on top but he came up a goal short of an eighth 50 goal season. 

It wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Caps’ captain scored goals in the first and third periods of Washington’s 5-3 win over New Jersey, with the Capital One Arena faithful chanting, ‘We want 50!’


Alas, he couldn’t get there, despite a third period breakaway and a couple of late power plays. All in all, Coach Trotz played his superstar 6:04 of the final 8:10. 

Ovechkin finished with 18 shot attempts, including eight on goal.

“I have pretty good chances in the first and the second and the third, the breakaway, I missed an empty net,” he said before adding with a smile, “But whatever. S*** happens.”

Asked if he heard the chants, he said: “Yeah, of course. The guys, the fans cheering for me, it was pretty cool moment. I'm pretty sure they enjoy it, the boys, my team enjoyed it as well. If I did it, it would be pretty cool moment.”

Ovechkin joined Bobby Hull as the only players to lead the NHL in goals seven times. Ovi also became the second player since expansion to lead the league in goals at age 32 or older. Phil Esposito did it twice in the early 1970’s just before his 33rd and 34th birthdays.


“It is pretty remarkable,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “You get to see a pretty remarkable athlete night in and night out. And sometimes you don’t appreciate it as much as you should.

As disappointed as Ovechkin was to come up short of 50 goals, he was also eager to turn the page after the game to the bigger goal: authoring a deep postseason run.

“It's pretty special,” Ovechkin said of leading the league in goals. “Thanks to my teammates, obviously, without them nothing can happen.”

“I'm pretty sure right now our goal not about the personal stats,” he added. “Of course it's nice. Of course the end of the season you pay attention to that. Of course you don't want to lose it because you have a pretty good chance. I'm pretty sure right now for us it's most important thing is the playoffs. I think we're ready, and we can't wait to start.”


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NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart


NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart

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

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been red-hot as of late and so has Evgeni Malkin. In his last nine games, Malkin has tallied a whopping 11 goals and 17 points. His current run has some people talking about him contending for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

But if you want to talk about Malkin for the Hart, you have to talk about Alex Ovechkin as well.

Malkin has 66 points this season, Ovechkin has 65. Even with his impressive goal run of late, Malkin still trails Ovechkin in the goal-scoring race 34-32. What's more, Ovechkin's Capitals still hold a three-point lead over Pittsburgh with two games in hand in the Metropolitan Division.

Granted all of this could change by next week. Perhaps Malkin will pass Ovechkin in goals or the Penguins will pass the Caps in the standings which will change the conversation. Until then, however, there's no way to push Malkin's Hart candidacy without thinking about Ovechkin. What he is doing at the age of 32 with a Capitals team in which no one really knew what to expect is more impressive than what the 31-year-old Malkin is doing with players like Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby with the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is third among all defensemen with 45 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.


Braden Holtby

In contention for: Vezina

Holtby is on pace to be a 40-win goalie for the fourth consecutive season. He would be the first goalie in NHL history to accomplish that feat.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

If Malkin is a Hart candidate, so is Ovechkin who has done more with less in Washington this season.

Barry Trotz

In contention for: Jack Adams

The Caps still hold a three-point lead in the Metropolitan Division despite having two rookies on the blue line, dealing with more injuries than they have seen in years and down offensive years for some of its top players. Trotz deserves a lot of credit for that.

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