Alright, give the man some big awards already …
Three days after being named the NHL’s player of the month for March, Ducks forward Corey Perry was named “First star of the week” for the week ending Sunday. Perry had a league-best eight points (three goals, five assists) in four games. He’s been one of the league-appointed three stars of the week in each of the past four weeks, which almost never happens.
Perry leads the NHL in goals (47), is
tied for second place in game-winning goals (10) and ranks third
in points (47-46–93). He has an active nine-game scoring streak,
during which he has tallied 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) and a plus-9
It’s reasonable to expect that some major individual awards will follow. The only player with a realistic chance of catching Perry for the Rocket Richard Trophy, Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, has 44 goals with three games left on the schedule for both the Lightning and Ducks.
As for the Hart Trophy, given to the league’s MVP, the list of candidates more worthy than Perry is getting shorter.
Twin forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin have been outstanding for the
Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks. Daniel leads the league with 100 points (41 goals, 59 assists) and Henrik leads the league in assists with 73, but they are likely to siphon votes from each other. Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo might also garner some votes for his team’s success.
Stamkos got off to a scorching start in his third NHL season but cooled off down the stretch, right around the time the PHWA voters start to hypothesize who should win the award. He’s still worthy of consideration, but is not singularly responsible for his team’s 99-point (and counting) season. Veteran linemate Martin St. Louis, who ranks second in the league in scoring (94 points) might steal some votes from Stamkos.
Jarome Iginla (39 goals, 81 points) is enjoying a bounceback year for the surprising Flames, but if his team misses the playoffs his Hart candidacy is all but over. A pair of stellar defensive forwards, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg and Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, are putting up solid offensive numbers but have too many teammates of equal or greater value to their clubs.
Among goalies, Boston’s Tim Thomas is in a class by himself. Relegated to backup duties last season, Thomas is far and away the league leader in goals-against average (1.98) and save percentage (.939). Both he and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (2.13, .929) are undoubtedly the most valuable players on their teams.
But goalies rarely receive enough votes to win the Hart. Jose Theodore was the last goalie to win the award in 2002; no goalie had won the award in the previous 40 seasons. Goalies have their own award, the Vezina Trophy, and the Professional
Hockey Writers’ Association tends to let them have it. (This writer
tends to fall into that category.)
Thomas makes a strong case, but I have a hard time giving the Hart Trophy to a player who has only appeared in 54 games (starting in 52). Boston has only three games left on its schedule.
It’s not quite a tie in my mind between Thomas and Perry, but the games-played category would be a slam-dunk tiebreaker if it were.