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Mile High Hockey Takes A Look At The Hart Trophy Race

According to the NHL’s website, the Hart Memorial Trophy is, "an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season."

Now, I am pretty certain guarantee that if Craig Anderson isn’t between the pipes for the Colorado Avalanche, this team is in the basement of the Western Conference again this year. Sounds pretty valuable to me.

This is not meant as a knock against Peter Budaj and his abilities as a goalie, it is just simply the truth. Time and time again this season Andy has won games for this team that, in all reality, they had no business winning. Latest example? Sunday afternoon in Dallas. He made 48 saves (18 in the third period) in a game where Dallas seemed to have the upper hand throughout.

Here is a look at some of his numbers through Monday afternoon:

2009 - Craig Anderson 60 3593 35 19 147 2.45 1923 1776 .924 7

He is currently on pace to set the franchise record for games started and wins. You may have heard of the guy that owns those records, Patrick Roy. As a goalie, if you ever have a chance to break any record that is held by him, that is something special.

Is this enough to get him into the running for the Hart Trophy? Time will tell, but I have this sneaking suspicion that it won’t and it really frustrates the hell out of me.

Follow the jump for a look at the rest of the potential nominees for the Hart Trophy.

Over the last two seasons, you can’t mention MVP and not hear Alexander Ovechkin’s name. He has lead the NHL in goal scoring the last 2 years and is showing no signs of slowing down. In just 385 games (through March 14th), he has amassed an astounding 516 points (263G, 253A).

Known as Alexander "the Great" in D.C., he has single-handedly been responsible for the turn around of that franchise. With him in the lineup, they have won the Southeast division title the last 3 years, including already clinching the title this season.

There is also no doubt that there is also some controversy surrounding Ovechkin as well. He plays every shift like it is going to be his last, and leaves it all out on the ice. Unfortunately, this style of play ends up costing him. As most everyone knows, he laid a "careless" hit on Brian Campbell of the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon. I am calling it careless because he wanted to make contact without thinking of where Campbell was on the ice (several feet from the boards, coming in at full speed). I am not going to call it a dirty hit, because it wasn’t. In my opinion, there was no malicious intent in the hit. He didn’t want to hurt Campbell and even offered a hand gesture apologizing to Campbell immediately following the hit. He was given a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. No suspension has been given by the League, but he is scheduled for a hearing with NHL disciplinarian, Colin Campbell to review the incident.

Another name that you can’t forget when talking about the most valuable player, is Sidney Crosby. No doubt Sid "the Kid" is the face of the NHL.

This season has seen him score more goals than any of his previous season, as of Monday afternoon he has 45 goals. He is well on his way to having his first 50 goal season. The most he had scored previously was 39 during his rookie season.

Pittsburgh is trailing only the Washington Capitals right now for the top overall spot in the Eastern Conference.

As if he wasn’t valuable enough to the Pittsburgh Penguins, he added another achievement to his already hall of fame worthy resume a few weeks ago. Something about a gold medal in the men’s hockey tournament during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. I think that he may have scored a goal in that game too...not sure though.

There is no doubt that at the tender age of 22 he has accomplished in the game of hockey than most people could ever dream of.

A few other names being tossed around for potential nominees is Ryan Miller, goalie for the Buffalo Sabres and Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks. If I was a betting man though, I would go ahead and put Ovechkin’s name on the Hart Trophy again. I am not happy about it, but it's what's going to happen. In my opinion, Craig Anderson should be bringing the Hart Trophy back to Denver for the first time since Super Joe in 2001.