Tavares Up For Hart Trophy

For the first time in his career, John Tavares is one of three players who is up for the Hart Trophy. In only his fourth season, the 22-year old New York Islander franchise center led his team to the postseason for the first time since ’07. In 48 contests, he led them in goals (28), points (47), power play goals (9), power play points (16) and game-winners (5). He also finished with a 17.3 shooting percentage.

Tavares has strong competition in Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Crosby totaled 56 points in 36 games and Ovechkin paced the league with 32 goals and 16 power play goals while netting 56 points in 48 games. 
In his inaugural playoffs, Tavares has two goals and two assists for four points against Crosby and the Pens. The Isles’ former ’09 first overall pick ranks second in team scoring behind captain Mark Streit (2-3-5). He scored the game-winner in their 6-4 win in Game Four that evened the series. Pittsburgh responded by shutting out the Islanders 4-0 to take a 3-2 series lead. Game Six is tomorrow at Nassau Coliseum. 
Though he probably won’t win league MVP, Tavares’ impact on the Islanders is why they’re not only in the playoffs but giving heavily favorite Pittsburgh a tough time. You can make the argument that nobody is more valuable to their team than JT91. However, Ovechkin is the favorite due to an unbelievable finish that included 23 goals in his final 23 games, carrying the Caps to the Southeast Division. Crosby’s year was special before injuries sidetracked him. There’s no telling how many points he would’ve put up if he didn’t miss 12 games. It should be an interesting vote. 
            NEW YORK (May 10, 2013) – Center Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, right wing Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and center John Tavares of the New York Islanders are the three finalists for the 2012-13 Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, with more detail on format to be released at a later date.
            Following are the finalists for the Hart Trophy, in alphabetical order:

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
            Although he missed the final 12 games of the regular season due to injury, Crosby still finished fourth in the League with 56 points and second with 41 assists to help the Penguins claim the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. He collected points in 28 of the 36 games he played in (77.8%), including 17 multi-point efforts, and recorded three point streaks of six games or more, including an eight-game stretch Feb. 24-March 10 (5?15—20). Crosby also finished fourth in the NHL with a +26 rating and posted his second career five-assist game March 10 vs. NY Islanders, becoming the only active NHLer with more than one such game in his career. The 25-year-old Cole Harbour, N.S., native previously won the Hart Trophy in 2006-07 and also was a finalist for the award in 2009-10.

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
            Ovechkin tallied 32 goals in 48 games, including 23 in his final 23 contests, to become the first three-time winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s goal-scoring leader. He also finished third in the League in points (56), first in power-play goals (16), first in power-play points (27) and first in shots on goal (220), leading the Capitals to an 11-1-1 record in April and their fifth Southeast Division title in the last six years. Ovechkin recorded points in nine straight games March 17-April 2 (10-5—15), including a five-game goal streak March 17-24, and tallied his 30th goal of the year April 20, becoming the ninth player in League history to score 30 or more goals in each of his first eight seasons. The 27-year-old Moscow native is a two-time Hart Trophy winner (2007-08, 2008-09) and also was a finalist for the award in 2009-10.

John Tavares, New York Islanders
            Tavares ranked third in the League with 28 goals and led the Islanders with 47 points in 48 games to propel the team to its first postseason berth since 2006-07. He scored 15 of his goals on the road (third in the NHL), helping the Islanders record their best road winning percentage in franchise history (.667). Tavares also ranked in the top 10 in the League in even-strength goals (19), power-play goals (nine) and game-winning goals (five). He scored in five straight games Feb. 7-16, including his fourth career hat trick Feb. 16 vs. New Jersey, and posted 13 multi-point games. The 22-year-old Mississauga, Ont., native is a first-time finalist for the Hart Trophy.

The Hart Memorial Trophy was presented by the National Hockey League in 1960 after the original Hart Trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The original Hart Trophy was donated to the NHL in 1924 by Dr. David A. Hart, father of Cecil Hart, former manager-coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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