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Though the Tampa Bay Lightning didn't make the playoffs, Steven Stamkos is a dark horse to win the 2012 Hart Memorial Trophy.
Since the award is based on which player is most valuable to his team, Stamkos certainly has a shot.
The center was the NHL's leading goal scorer with 60 and added another 37 assists.
When Stamkos contributed, Tampa Bay was 34-21-5. That's a decent .567 winning percentage.
But the Lightning were 4-15-3 when he didn't register a point, a paltry .182 winning percentage.
The difference (.385) is better than that of fellow finalist forward Evgeni Malkin (.700 with and .409 without, a .291 difference), the favorite to win the Hart. It's also far and above fellow finalist goalie Henrik Lundqvist (.629 with him and .667 without him, a .038 difference).
Basically, when Stamkos was able to overcome stringent defense against him by tallying a point he made the Lightning a competitive team.
Meanwhile, Malkin played alongside a stable of above-average Pittsburgh Penguins players who could win without his presence. And Lundqvist relied purely on the phenomenal New York Rangers defense for his wins.
In a sports world where making the playoffs matters more than making a difference, Stamkos is an under the radar choice for the Hart Trophy—but he certainly deserves the award.