The 2012 NHL Awards airs tonight in Las Vegas. Many deserving candidates are up for some of hockey's most coveted hardware (besides the Stanley Cup, of course).
Those who were knocked out of the playoffs can take solace in the fact that they've had fantastic seasons that any team would be proud of. This is a night where the hard-working and talented receive recognition for their commitment to the sport that we all know and love.
Whether you are a Rangers fan, a Penguins fan, a Lightning fan or beyond, we all can truly appreciate what these warriors of the ice bring to the NHL.
Here's a look at the three nominees for the Hart Memorial Trophy, along with a case for each of them to bring home the big award.
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist was the leader for a Rangers team that compiled 109 points this season, the most in the Eastern Conference. That's Reason No. 1 why he should win the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Secondly, he finished with 39 wins on the season, a 1.97 GAA (fifth in the league) and a .930 save percentage (tied for third). He played big, and he played even bigger in pivotal moments down the stretch.
If he doesn't win the Hart Memorial Trophy, he should surely win the Vezina Trophy for best goalie in the league.
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
The biggest reason Evgeni Malkin should win the award: He carried the Penguins when superstar Sidney Crosby was out.
The second-biggest reason? Malkin scored 50 goals and dished 59 assists, finishing with a grand total of 109 points for the season. Pittsburgh finished with 51 wins despite Crosby's absence for most of the season. They tied with the Rangers for first in the Eastern Conference.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos was the top goal-scorer in the NHL this season, with 60 goals. He also added 37 assists.
If it wasn't for him, the Lightning wouldn't have come close to capturing a playoff spot. The 2008 No. 1 pick has certainly lived up to his potential, and he's only getting better after his fourth season in the league.
The sky's the limit for Stamkos, and most seasons would see him win the Hart Memorial Trophy with the numbers he put up in 2011-2012, but you can't help but think Malkin will win the award, given the way he stepped up in Crosby's absence.