As we hit the home stretch of the regular season and the playoffs loom near, the debate for who is the league’s MVP is heating up. The last time a goalie took home the Hart Memorial Trophy was when Jose Theodore won during the 2001-02 season. This year, two goalies find themselves in the middle of the debate and it is quite likely one of the two can walk away with the award.
Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)– Leading the way in the debate, Price has meant more to his team than likely any other individual player throughout the entire league. His 36 wins, 1.92 goals against average, and .935 save percentage are all tops in the NHL, while sitting in a tie for third place with six shutouts. With his team only scoring 2.62 goals per game, ranking 21st in the league, Price’s body of work has been a major factor in his team sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference.
Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators) – While Price leads the way in GAA, SV%, and wins, Rinne is not far behind and the two will likely be neck-and-neck statistically down the stretch. Where Price has the clear advantage is the fact that Nashville is a better overall team than Montreal, scoring 2.91 goals per game, which is sixth best in the league. After dealing with major injuries last season, Rinne has rebounded and surprisingly come back an even better goalie than before. Rinne has anchored his team in net and has been a huge part of Nashville’s turnaround, as the team is in first place in the West and has two more points than Price’s Canadiens.
Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) – Statistically, the Ducks’ top line center doesn’t lead the way in any category, which may cause some to question why he makes the list. Through 61 games played, Getzlaf has 61 points – an even one point-per-game pace. Tied for eighth place in points, there is plenty of time for Getzlaf to work his way up the leader board, but even if he stays put, he will likely stay in Hart contention for the simple reason that he is the top player on one of the top teams and an excellent playmaker. He also matches up nightly with some of the league’s other top big-bodied centers in Anze Kopitar and Joe Thornton.
John Tavares (New York Islanders) – The top pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft has finally established himself as a superstar in the league, and his play has catapulted him into the MVP discussion. The Islanders forward is tied for first in points while scoring 30 goals for the second time in his career. After years of futility, the Islanders are tied with their rivals, the New York Rangers, for first in their division, thanks in large part to Tavares’ play.
With each team having roughly 20 games left on their schedule, no player has established themselves as the foregone conclusion to take home the hardware, but if the season ended today, Price would be this writer’s pick.
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