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McKenzie: Malkin could challenge Ovechkin for MVP honours

Bob McKenzie
3/18/2009 6:00:45 PM
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That sound you hear is the beginning of a debate on who should win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player.

Pittsburgh fans were serenading Evgeni Malkin with chants of "M-V-P" Tuesday night when he scored two goals and five points to lead the Penguins to their ninth win in their last 11 games and an 11-1-3 record under interim coach Dan Bylsma.

Now that the streaking Penguins have moved into a playoff spot and fifth place in the East, the notion that Malkin could challenge Washington's Alexander Ovechkin for MVP honours suddenly has some merit.

It's funny, because Malkin has been the NHL's scoring leader for most of the season and it's not exactly news that he has a 10-point lead on teammate Sidney Crosby and 12-point lead on Ovechkin. But now that Pittsburgh is a playoff team, Malkin's performance is suddenly seen in a different light.

Hey, it's going to be difficult to overlook Ovechkin's league-leading 49 goals and dynamic presence, his 457 shots on goal, the raging-bull physicality and passion for game. For many, Ovechkin has already done enough to entrench himself as the Hart winner. But the season's not yet over and how the two Russians fare in their final 10 games could, or at least should, make things a little more interesting than they have been.

Bob McKenzie

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