It had already been a pretty fair week for Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
In order, the 25-year-old dynamo returned to the ice after recovering from a broken jaw, was nominated for the Ted Lindsay most outstanding player award, got a cover story in Sports Illustrated and scored a breathtaking goal in Game 5 to help push the Penguins ahead in their first-round playoff series against the New York Islanders.
Friday morning, Crosby’s nice seven-day stretch got even better when he was named a finalist for the Hart Trophy, which goes to the player adjudged to be the NHL’s most valuable to his team. The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association votes on the award, and the winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup Final in late June.
Crosby won his only Hart in 2007, the same year he captured his lone Art Ross Trophy, given to the NHL’s scoring leader. Another “double” seemed to be in the offing this year, as Crosby took over the league’s points lead early in the lockout-shortened season and affirmed himself as the consensus best player in hockey.
However, a deflected shot broke Crosby’s jaw March 30, sidelining him for the final 12 games and allowing Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis to eventually pass him for the scoring crown. Crosby finished tied for third with 56 points (15g, 41a), four behind St. Louis, one back of the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos and even with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.
The voting was completed before the playoffs began, so time will tell if Crosby’s absence for 25 percent of the season will mitigate his value in the eyes of leaguewide journalists.
New York Islanders center John Tavares (28g, 19a) and Capitals winger Ovechkin join Crosby on the finalist platform. Chicago Blackhawks catalysts Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were notable omissions from the top three, as was Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.