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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Datsyuk a Hart finalist

Pavel Datsyuk was named as one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy, Wednesday, joining last year's winner, Alexander Ovechkin of Washington, and the NHL's leading scorer, Evgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh, as potential MVPs.

This is the first time since Sergei Fedorov won the Hart in 1994 that a Detroit player was a finalist. In the past 43 years, this is just the third time that a Red Wing has finished in the top three of voting with Steve Yzerman's third-place finish of 1989 being the other.

This is the first time Datsyuk has been voted a Hart Trophy finalist. He won two individual trophies last season (Selke and Lady Byng) and is a finalist for those two this season as well. No player has won the Hart, Selke and Byng Trophies in the same season. Datsyuk finished fourth in the league scoring race this season, matching his career-high with 97 points while scoring a personal-best 32 goals. He ranked second among NHL players in takeaways with 89, placed third in plus-minus with a plus-34 rating, and won 56 percent of the 1,135 faceoffs he took.

Malkin followed up his break-out 2007-08 season by leading the NHL in points (career-high 113) and assists (78). He also led the league with 94 takeaways.

Ovechkin is vying to become the first repeat winner of the Hart Trophy since Dominik Hasek of Buffalo won in 1997 and 1998. Ovechkin won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the second straight season for again leading the League with 56 goals – the fourth time in his five NHL seasons that he’s eclipsed 50 goals. He finished three points shy of becoming the NHL’s first repeat scoring titlist since Jaromir Jagr in 2000 and 2001. Ovechkin’s 528 shots on goal were the second highest single-season total in NHL history behind Phil Esposito’s 550 in 1970-71. His 19 power-play goals ranked second in the League and his 10 game-winning goals ranked third.

Datsyuk finished ninth in Hart voting last season. Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom placed fourth and Henrik Zetterberg was 10th.

Lidstrom's fourth-place finish last spring was the best Hart showing for a Red Wing since Paul Coffey placed fourth in 1995.


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