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The Hart Trophy Nominees Are In: No Ryan Miller?

Laura FalconAnalyst IMay 1, 2010

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 09:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates into position against goalie Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on December 9, 2009 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Fresh off of my last final of the semester, I received a forwarded text message on Thursday from a fellow Penguins fan while waiting to pay for my lunch:

PENS ALERT: Sidney Crosby a finalist for HART TROPHY as NHL MVP along with Alex Ovechkin & Henrik Sedin.

I can't speak for the rest of the hockey community, but I was stunned when I saw the finalists for the Hart Trophy.

To be more specific, I was stunned that Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, a player who I believed was the top contender to win, didn't even receive a nomination for his hard work.

With his 2.22 GAA and .929 SV percent, Miller was the anchor of a team that had no dominating players on offense or defense. He powered the Sabres to the playoffs, something the team hadn't achieved since the 2006-07 season when they won the Presidents' Trophy.

Fans and analysts argued that without him, the Sabres would have never made it to the playoffs.

That sounds like MVP material to me.

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Looking at the nominees, I saw a worthy candidate in Henrik Sedin, a player who ended his season with 112 points to win the Art Ross Trophy and a player who stepped up his game to lead the Vancouver Canucks to the Northwest Division title.

I also saw a worthy candidate in Sidney Crosby, who had a breakout season that included domination in the faceoff circle, shootout, defensive play, and his first 51-goal season that led him to his first Rocket Richard Trophy.

That leaves Alex Ovechkin, a player who ended the season with anything but weak stats. Unfortunately, his play in almost every aspect of the game was outdone by another player in the NHL.

This is not meant to be a dig at Ovechkin's obvious talent and dominance as an offensive player, but he's the odd man out.

In fact, I feel a big part of Ovechkin's reception of the nomination has more to do with his reigning MVP title than his play throughout the season.

As previously stated, if you look at the Sabres' roster, you will find a team of talented, but low key players. Derek Roy was the points leader on the team with 69; Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly weren't far behind in carrying the play.

Overall, the Sabres were 10th in the NHL in goals for with 231, giving them a 2.82 goals for per game average.

Pretty average.

However, only 201 goals were scored against the Sabres, a 2.45 goals against average per game, good enough for fourth in the NHL.

Impressive.

If you look at Ovechkin and the rest of the Washington Capitals, he received plenty of offensive help from Nicklas Backstrom, who had a 101-point season, to power the Caps to the Presidents' Trophy.

A closer look will also show that four players on Capitals—Ovechkin, Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green—all totaled more points than Roy.

It seems that Miller had more of a hand in his team's wins than Ovechkin did for the Caps.

Surely, this makes Miller more valuable to his team.

Regardless of what I or any other person says, the NHL's decision stands and Ovechkin has the chance to take home the Hart for a third consecutive year.

But overall, the NHL certainly made a mistake by not honoring Miller's contributions to the Buffalo Sabres in the 2009-10 season.

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