It says something when you can make a valid argument that, in San Jose’s 4-0 win over the Canadiens Monday night the best player on the ice for either team was Carey Price. (That probably says a lot about the dreadful effort put in by his teammates, but that’s an issue for another day).
Tuesday, Price was named winner of the monthly Molson Cup for February. It’s the fifth straight month he’s won the award and there’s probability he will become the first member of the Canadiens to sweep a year since the award’s installation 43 years ago.
On Sunday Price was also named the NHL’s second star for the month of February. In earlier NHL weekly three star awards he was named first star February second, 2nd star November 7th and third star on January 5th.
With all of this, there are those who still wish to exclude Price from Hart Trophy voting. Their rather strange argument seems to hinge on the fact that goaltenders have their own trophy (Vezina) and therefore should be not be eligible. By those standards, the league scoring champion (Art Ross Trophy), the top goalscorer (Richard Trophy) and top defenseman (Norris Trophy) have their own awards and should also be ineligible. But the guidelines for the Hart simply state that voters should select “the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”
I thought Washington coach Barry Trotz put it best two weeks ago when asked who he thought was the league’s most valuable player. “For me it’s Carey Price.” Trotz told Washington reporters. “I think he’s probably the top guy. Every night he’s the difference-maker it seems.”
The on-line gambling site Sports.Bovado.lv agrees. They have made Price a 2-1 favourite to win the Hart Trophy ahead of Alex Ovechkin (3-1) and John Taveres (7-2). Patrick Kane would have been somewhere in that mix, but his injury takes him out of the picture.
It’s a closer race in the Vezina where Price is favoured by 5/14, odds ahead of Nashville Pekka Rinne (8/5). Marc-Andre Fleury is an also-ran at 18/1.
For the record, the last goaltender to win the Hart Trophy was the Canadiens Jose Theodore in 2002. Dominik Hasek won it in 1997 and 1998. They are the only goaltenders to win since the 1967 expansion. At this stage of the season, Price’s numbers are better than any of Hasek or Theodore’s seasons. Right now his save percentage is at .935 and his goals-against-average at .935. Hasek’s GAA was 2.27 and save% .930 in 1997 and 2.09 and .932 in 1998. In 2002, Theodore was at 2.11 and .931.
The other goaltenders to win the Hart were Roy Worters of the NY Americans in 1929, Chuck Raynor of the Rangers in 1949, Chicago’s Al Rollins in 1954 and the Canadiens Jacques Plante in 1962.
Over 90 years, 54 different players have won the Hart. Among those eligible, the only three who have not been inducted in the Hockey Hall of ‘Fame are Brooklyn Americans defenseman Tommy Anderson (1941), the goaltender Rollins and Eric Lindros (1995).