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Capitals’ Ovechkin Currently The Hart Frontrunner — And Rightfully So

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Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has been having one of the best seasons of his career, and it’s put him in the lead for the NHL MVP race.

The Great 8 is currently the Hart Trophy frontrunner, according to PHWA writers. And considering his play, it’s not a surprise.

At age 36, Ovechkin is having one of the strongest seasons of his career as he continues to make NHL history. He got off to a career-best start to his career and currently has 31 goals and 31 assists through just 50 games.

The Capitals captain is on pace for a 99-point campaign, which would mark his highest total since 2009-10, when he put up 110 points. Not only that, he is among the NHL scoring leaders this year, keeping up with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the other young NHL stars.

He started the season sixth on the NHL all-time goals list and moved to fifth with two goals in the season opener. Now, he sits at 761 career goals and is just six shy of passing Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time list.

Not only that, but he broke the NHL’s power-play goal record with his 275th PPG against Detroit on New Year’s Eve to close out 2021 with a bang.

“Well I guess still have fun. I still love the game,” Ovechkin said of his standout performance. “I’m enjoying being on the ice, off the ice, spend time with this group of guys. So I think that’s the most important thing.”

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The Hart Trophy is awarded annually by the PHWA and given “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.” Ovechkin has proven to be just that.

Beyond his individual accolades, the Russian’s play has also kept the Capitals afloat. Washington has seen plenty of adversity this season, from multiple key injuries to bouts with COVID-19. The team started the year without Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals’ leading scorer last season, before seeing Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie suffer long-term injuries. Then, when COVID-19 broke out, Ovechkin remained a constant, managing to play 46 games before catching the virus himself before the All-Star break.

Still, his numbers, as well as his leadership, helped a rookie-filled Washington lineup remain a top competitor in the Metropolitan Division. And thanks to this, the club remains in playoff position as the Capitals’ full lineup starts to take form with key names returning from injury.

Ovechkin also continues to mesmerize his teammates, whether it be rookies like Connor McMichael who owned his jersey growing up or veterans like Tom Wilson, who is also hitting his stride with a career year.

“I can’t give away any of his secrets. I just see like a guy that is so unique and probably the best I’ve ever seen at, just like, not being stopped and going out there and doing whatever it takes to get it done,” Wilson said. “I’ve said it kind of a few times this year like he just becomes more and more motivated and gets hungrier and hungrier and one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever met. He wants to score goals and wants to be the greatest of all time. He’s up there.”
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