Okay, as you can see by the poll over in the right hand sidebar, Alexander Ovechkin is the runaway favorite to capture the Hart Trophy this year as NHL MVP. But this isn't just a one horse race, and a certain centerman from the Philadelphia Flyers is making some noise when it comes to NHL MVP consideration.
No, Mike Richards does not have the flash and dash that Ovechkin does. He might not pull fans out of their seats like the Great 8 does. However, last time I checked super skill wasn't the only criteria to measuring an athlete's value to his team. Previous winners like Chris Pronger, and Sergei Fedorov have won the award by excelling at both ends of the ice, and by dominating in all situations. Mike Richards has defined these traits and has come to be known as "Mr. Everything" in the city of Philadelphia.
Richards was at it again last night as his Flyers took on the streaking Buffalo Sabres. Richards netted 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points as his team scored a 6-3 victory. The 5 point night vaulted Richards up to 57 for the season. A pretty impressive total considering this guy often lines up as a shutdown guy against other teams' best players.
He has proven particularly dangerous while killing penalties, as his 8 short-handed points this season can attest to. He recently scored the third 3 on 5 short-handed goal of his career, setting a rather obscure NHL record at the tender age of 24.
Richards hits, fights, wins big face-offs, plays big minutes, quarterbacks the powerplay, kills penalties, and leads by example every night. He scores at a rate of better than a point a game and has an impressive +23 rating.
Looking at this impressive array of stats will erase any doubt that Richards is the most valuable player to the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Great 8 better look in his rearview mirror. He might be the front runner to capture his second straight Hart Trophy, but he has got some serious competition in Mr. Everything for the Flyers.