The Norse God of Goaltending. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The news has just broke that Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos, and Henrik Lundqvist are the three finalists for the Hart Trophy, also known as the MVP award. Hank, who is also a finalist for the Vezina this year, is getting a lot of nods and attention for his outstanding season this year in which he led the Rangers to the top of the Eastern Conference and had them behind only the Vancouver Canucks in points.
Join me for more after the jump...
According to the NHL.com article:
This year, the writers chose New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos as the finalists for the award. The winner will be announced at the 2012 NHL Awards Show, June 20 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.Lundqvist had the best season of an already stellar career in 2011-12. He earned 39 of the Rangers' 51 wins, and set single-season personal-bests with a 1.97 goals-against average and .930 save percentage -- he was fourth in the League in both categories -- and had eight shutouts.
It's just the eighth time since 1980 that a goaltender has finished in the top three in Hart Trophy voting, and the first time since Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur did it in 2006-07. Lundqvist has a chance to be the first goalie to win the Hart since Jose Theodore in 2001-02.
Admittedly it is going to be hard to beat Evgeni Malkin, who had an amazing year and almost single-handedly carried his team into the postseason. There is also that Steven Stamkos guy who managed to bury 60 goals this year, only the 20th player ever to do so in a single season. It is hard not to notice that Hank is nominated for both the Vezina and the Hart Trophy and is the only goaltender to have that distinction, let's hope that he continues to get the attention and accolades he deserves as one of, if not the best, goaltenders in the world.
For now the nomination, though it is an immense honor, is probably just a distraction for Hank and the Rangers. The Rangers are currently resting and waiting for tomorrow's 3pm start to Round Two of the playoffs against the Washington Capitals.
Congratulations Hank, it is very, very well deserved.