NHL writers chime in on Crosby-Ovechkin MVP race
WASHINGTON -- The NHL may be all about Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, and the league's two brightest stars are likely to place as finalists for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. Tied for the league lead as of Tuesday with 45 goals apiece, the respective captains of the Penguins and Capitals have won three MVPs and two scoring titles between them since breaking into the league five years ago.
Crosby's Penguins are set to face Ovechkin's Capitals at Washington tonight, and the Tribune-Review teamed with CSNWasshington.com to poll NHL national and local beat writers about this MVP race. No Pittsburgh- or Washington-based writers voted. These are the results:
OVERALL (24 votes)
Ovechkin: 13 votes (54.2 percent)
Crosby: 7 votes (29.2 percent)
Other: 4 votes (16.7 percent)
NATIONAL WRITERS (13 votes)
Ovechkin: 5 vote (38.5 percent)
Crosby: 5 votes (38.5 percent)
Other: 3 vote (23.1 percent)
BEAT REPORTERS (11 votes)
Ovechkin: 8 votes (72.8 percent)
Crosby: 2 votes (18.2 percent)
Other: 1 vote (9.1 percent)
Notable: Other players receiving votes were Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller and Vancouver center Henrik Sedin.
WHAT WRITERS SAID ABOUT OVECHKIN:
• SCOTT CRUICKSHANK, CALGARY HERALD: "Dangerous hits aside, he's the most dynamic player in the league. The Caps would be sunk without him."
• SCOTT BURNSIDE, ESPN.COM: "The numbers are just too impressive to ignore. Think notion of being too reckless is overstated. I can't wait for the playoff rematch (with Crosby)."
• DAMIAN COX, TORONTO STAR: "He is the best player on the best team. It's not a vote on last year's playoffs or this year's Olympics. It's this regular season. Both Ovechkin and Crosby have been superb, Ovechkin slightly better with a team still establishing itself. He also took on a new role of captain seamlessly."
• CHRIS BOTTA, AOL FANHOUSE: "This is like trying to explain if Magic or Bird were more valuable to their teams. You can't go wrong with either player, but you sure as heck CAN go very wrong articulating why the other guy isn't your choice. My vote for 2009-10 is with Alex Ovechkin for a very simple reason: the Capitals have had a much better regular season than the Penguins."
• JOHN GLENNON, THE TENNESSEAN: "I'm going with Ovechkin because he has led his team to the top of the Eastern Conference, has a better points-per-game ratio than Crosby and has a much better plus-minus rating. That said; Ovechkin's suspensions did cross my mind. After all, an MVP has to show the ability to lead his team - and to be available to play as often as possible."
• SAM CARCHIDI, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: "He wins games with his scoring AND his physicality. No one is better at taking over a game."
• CHRIS MCCOSKY, DETROIT NEWS: "If the skill level is even, if the statistics are relatively even -- which they are -- then I will take the bigger and stronger guy every time, especially when he plays for the team with the league's best record."
• FRANK SERAVALLI, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS: "Sure, this has been Crosby's best goal-scoring season, but I don't think opposing teams gun for Crosby the way Alex Ovechkin is the focus in Washington. Ovechkin's stats are still better. His team has run away with the Eastern Conference. And the tenacity with which he plays the game -- even if his style's safety can be questioned -- makes him the most electrifying player in the game. Some games, Crosby can be absent like the milk carton man ('Have you seen me?'); but Ovechkin is too hard to miss."
WHAT WRITERS SAID ABOUT CROSBY:
• STEVE GORTEN, SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL: "He's got a few less points, and his plus-minus isn't nearly as impressive even though he has played eight more games. I put a lot of weight into how that player's team would do without him. The Capitals have had no problems winning without Ovechkin this season. They have plenty of firepower. The Penguins need Crosby more than the Caps need Ovechkin. Plus, I think it says a lot for a center to be able to put up as many goals as Crosby has as opposed to a winger because the center has so many more responsibilities on the ice. Lastly, Crosby hasn't put his team in a bad spot by getting himself suspended twice this season.
• KEN CAMPBELL, THE HOCKEY NEWS: I would submit that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have been equally brilliant this year, so I think this season it should go to the true MVP of the league, the player who has been adjudged to be most valuable to his team. And I would submit that player has been Sidney Crosby in 2009-10. Largely because Crosby has decided to add a lethal scoring touch to his arsenal, his presence on the Pittsburgh Penguins has had more of an impact than Ovechkin's on the Washington Capitals. I would also submit that when it comes to producing offense, Ovechkin is blessed with a far superior supporting cast. As of this writing, Crosby has scored the all-important first goal of the game 12 times, Ovechkin 11. Including shootout goals, Crosby has scored 24 goals that have put his team ahead in games, while Ovechkin has just 15. But where I think Crosby gets the nod most is in the much maligned shootout. Aside from the fact that Crosby has one OT goal compared to zero for Ovechkin, Crosby has six shootout goals in eight tries this season, while Ovechkin has just one in seven. Three of Crosby's goals were also game-deciding goals. Also, Crosby has missed only one game to injury this season, thus being more available to his team than Ovechkin, who has missed 11 contests with a combination of injuries and suspensions."
• PIERRE LEBRUN, ESPN.COM: "The Caps are (7-2-1) without Ovechkin, showing they're a deep powerhouse with many more weapons than just their superstar. The Pens missed Gonchar for a while this year, Fleury has had his struggles and Malkin has been inconsistent all season long. Not sure where the Pens would be without Crosby's career high in goals. To me it's toss-up between OV and Sid, but right now, my first-place ballot goes to Sid.
• DAVID PAGNOTTA, THE FOURTH PERIOD: "I'm a huge Ovechkin backer. I have been since he jumped in the league. If I had to pick a player to build my team around, it's Alex. But, this season, I say it's a toss-up between Sidney Crosby and Henrik Sedin for MVP. Look at how well the Capitals have performed with Ovechkin out of the lineup. Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin have been controlling the offense sans Ovi, keeping the Caps atop the East. Take Sid or Henrik (Sedin of Vancouver) off their respective clubs, and they're significantly worse off. I may even give the nod to Sedin -- without his outstanding play this year, the Canucks don't have a hope in hell of making the playoffs."
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