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Penguins' Crosby remains Hart Trophy favorite

Wednesday, 02.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Penguins' Crosby remains Hart Trophy favorite
Coming down stretch, Penguins center Sidney Crosby remains favorite to win Hart Trophy.

With three-quarters of the 2013-14 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders. 

It hasn't seemed to matter who his linemates are, or what kind of teammates he's been on the ice with. All Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby has done is produce and help his team win games.

And with a daily injury report that has at times read like an all-star game roster, and a Penguins roster that at times has featured as many American Hockey League players as NHL, Crosby has shown this season why he's the best -- and most valuable player -- in the League.

The easiest place to start is with the most general stats. At the Olympic break, Crosby led the League with 50 assists and 78 points. That puts him on pace for 110 points, which would be the second-most he's had in his nine seasons. With 28 goals, he's going to hit 30 for the sixth time; he's on pace for 39, so it wouldn't be a stretch to see him get to 40 for the second time.

Sidney Crosby is on pace for 110 points this season. (Photo: Getty Images)

Crosby has had a hand in 42.8 percent of his team's 182 non-shootout goals, and he's been just as good at home (12 goals, 40 points in 28 games) as on the road (16 goals, 38 points in 30 games).

He's reached those numbers while averaging 22:01 of ice time per game, second among all NHL forwards. And when he's been on the ice it has been against the hardest competition the opposition has thrown at Penguins forwards, according to advanced metrics at BehindtheNet.ca. Though he's started 50.3 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, he's finished 52.8 percent of his shifts there, a sign he can create offense from anywhere on the ice.

Crosby also has been used as a penalty killer (0:34 per game) and won 52.3 percent of his faceoffs, a respectable success rate for a player who's taken 1,392 faceoffs, the most in the League.

Though Crosby is the clear pick right now to win his second Hart Trophy, there are a number of outstanding performers keeping themselves in contention for the honor.

FINALISTS

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks -- The Ducks captain has been the best player on the best team in the Western Conference. Getzlaf entered the Olympic break second in the League in scoring to Crosby with 67 points in 56 games, and his 29 goals are tied for fourth. He's had a hand in 34.5 percent of the Ducks' 194 non-shootout goals, and his seven game-winning goals are second in the League.

He has a plus-24 rating while averaging 21:02 of ice time per game; his 2:13 of shorthanded ice time is a career best and second among Ducks forwards.

And Getzlaf has accomplished all this while facing the toughest competition among any Ducks forward. Maybe just as impressive is that only 45.8 percent of Getzlaf's shifts have started in the offensive zone according to BehindtheNet.ca, fewest among Ducks forwards; however, 49.8 percent of his shifts have ended there.

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning -- At age 38, regardless of who his linemates are, the Lightning's dynamo forward hasn't seemed to miss a beat. At the Olympic break, St. Louis ranked in the top 12 in the League in goals (29) and points (56). He has a plus-15 while ranking third in average ice time per game among forwards at 21:45; of the 26 forwards to average at least 20 minutes per game, only four have a better plus/minus than St. Louis.

St. Louis also has been the go-to offensive player for the Lightning for the majority of the season while teammate Steven Stamkos has been recovering from a broken right leg. Despite the absence of Stamkos and playing mostly on a line with rookies Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, St. Louis has continued to produce at a high level.

He also weathered the storm of questions that have surrounded the team during Stamkos' recovery and bid for a spot on Canada's team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, as well as St. Louis' own omission from the original list of players selected and then his subsequent addition to the team when Stamkos wasn't cleared medically to go to Russia. Between Jan. 7, the day the Canadian Olympic team was announced, and the Olympic break, St. Louis had eight goals and 18 points in 16 games, and at least one point in 14 of the 16 games.

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Quote of the Day

It's tough to realize, maybe, but it's something I'm happy and proud [of]. I've been fortunate to play with good teams too.

— Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury after notching his 300th career win
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