Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ovechkin has strong case for MVP even ifCaps miss playoffs

With 61 goals and 46 assists, Alex Ovechkin has a hand in 48.6 percent of the Caps’ goals.

Getty Images

With 61 goals and 46 assists, Alex Ovechkin has a hand in 48.6 percent of the Caps’ goals.

TAMPA — Is he offended or just bored with the debate?

It's difficult to tell with Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin, whose astounding season has sparked a back-and-forth about whether a player from a nonplayoff team should be league MVP.

"First of all,'' Ovechkin said Wednesday, "the season is not over yet.''

It might be soon as Washington, with five games left, including tonight against the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum, is fighting for a playoff spot.

If the Capitals fall short, the debate will intensify: Should Ovechkin, who leads the league with 61 goals, 107 points, 21 power-play goals and 10 winners, be MVP over players such as Flames captain Jarome Iginla, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur and Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, all of whom lead playoff teams?

Ovechkin shrugged.

"You don't have to listen to people,'' he said. "You just have to play how you play and be yourself. If I don't win it, I don't win it. Right now, it's all about the team. It's all about winning.''

But coach Bruce Boudreau said Ovechkin is more tuned in.

"There's a lot of talk in the paper about Alex not being worthy of the MVP unless we make the playoffs," he said. "He's taken a personal affront to that and is saying, 'If that's your attitude, I'm going to do whatever it takes.'  "

Only four players from nonplayoff teams have won the Hart Trophy, the MVP award voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The last was Mario Lemieux in 1988.

Ovechkin, 22, is making a good case. He is the first 60-goal scorer since Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96. He needs three goals to pass Luc Robitaille for most in a season by a left wing.

In 34 games since signing a 13-year, $124-million deal, Ovechkin has 29 goals and 26 assists. In 20 games in which he scored since Jan. 1, the Capitals are 16-3-1.

And at 6 feet 2, 217 pounds, he is not subtle.

"Players are scared of him,'' said Tampa Bay's Jeff Halpern, Ovechkin's former teammate. "People don't want to hit him. If you're trying to stop someone from scoring and you're scared to bump into him because you don't want to end up on the highlights getting run over by him, it makes him pretty hard to defend.''

Add that Washington has one other 20-goal scorer (Alexander Semin with 23) and Ovechkin has scored or assisted on 48.6 percent of his team's 220 goals and, well, you get the idea.

Goaltender Olaf Kolzig said watching Ovechkin convinced him an MVP does not have to come from a playoff team.

"I'm leaning towards the player that means the most to his team and where that team would be without him in the lineup,'' Kolzig said. "I believe we'd be worse off than most teams if we didn't have Alex.''

No debate there.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at

Ovechkin has strong case for MVP even ifCaps miss playoffs 03/26/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2008 5:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs get first new video director in 29 years


    When the Bucs took to the practice field this week to start OTA practices, they did so with a new video director for the first time in 29 years.

    Bucs video director Dave Levy, shown during the 2003 season, worked under nine different head coaches in 29 seasons working for Tampa Bay.
  2. Rays set to activate Tommy Hunter from DL


    The Rays plan to activate RHP Tommy Hunter from the DL for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

  3. Steven Souza Jr. snaps out of slump as Rays defeat Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After Tuesday's shutout loss to the Angels, Steven Souza Jr. stood in front of his locker and talked about his need to contribute to the offense.

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hugs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the dugout after his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
  4. Tom Jones: Rays made right move sending Blake Snell to minors

    The Heater

    tom jones' two cents


    Blake Snell’s struggles on the mound were only one of the reasons the Rays sent him to the minors; some other red flags existed. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Ryne Stanek has had his early struggles, but Wednesday he showed his high-octane potential, working around a one-out walk to strike out the mighty Mike Trout (on a 98.4 mph fastball) and legendary Albert Pujols (98.7), both swinging.