– It will be Fan Appreciation Day at Verizon Center Sunday, and the 18,000 or so red-clad patrons will be hoping to see Alex Ovechkin
capture his third straight Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy and second Art Ross
Memorial Trophy in three years.
After collecting 2 goals and 3 points Friday night against Atlanta, Ovechkin leads the League in both categories. His has one more goal than Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby
and one more point than Vancouver's Henrik Sedin
"I think both of us want to win," Ovechkin said of the two races. "If somebody [else] is going to win it then I will congratulate them. It is a pretty big deal in the season and of course you want to do this."
Both of Ovechkin's combatants are playing Saturday night. Sedin's Canucks play host to the Calgary Flames
in their final game of the season, so Ovechkin will know how many points he needs to score.
Sedin has 7 points in five games against the Flames this year, and he has not scored more against any other team in his career (44 points in 55 games).
Crosby and the Penguins are at Atlanta Saturday night and on Long Island for their finale Sunday, but it is after Washington's game against the Boston Bruins
. The Pittsburgh captain does not have a goal in three contests against the Thrashers, but he has 5 goals and 12 points in five games against the Islanders.
Ovechkin has 3 goals and 6 points in three games against the Bruins this season. He struggled a bit against Boston, and particularly defenseman Zdeno Chara
, early in his NHL career. He had 3 goals in his first 10 games against the Bruins before a hat trick on March 3, 2008 in a 10-2 victory.
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau
said Ovechkin was joking with him earlier in the week by "bugging" him for the day off on Sunday. It would be pretty hard to imagine him not being on the ice, especially with these individual awards within his grasp.
The Richard Trophy has only been awarded since the 1998-99 season, but Ovechkin can become the first three-time winner. He can also join a list of players who have led the league in goals for at least three-consecutive seasons that includes Brett Hull
, Wayne Gretzky
, Phil Esposito
, Bobby Hull
, Gordie Howe
and Charlie Conacher
"It is what it is, and I think anybody who follows hockey knows that it is pretty close in some individual stuff. If you can help your players to get to that point without hurting the team then I think it is prudent as a coach to let them try."
-- Bruce Boudreau
Expect Boudreau to give Ovechkin plenty of chances to secure both awards. Ovechkin led Washington's forwards in ice time at 23:11 Friday night against Atlanta, including 7:45 on the power play.
Boudreau had Ovechkin and the other members of Washington's top power-play unit on the ice late in the third period for about a minute despite having a three-goal lead against one of his best friends in the business, Atlanta coach John Anderson
"I was hoping [Anderson] wasn't going to get mad at me," Boudreau said. "It is what it is, and I think anybody who follows hockey knows that it is pretty close in some individual stuff. If you can help your players to get to that point without hurting the team then I think it is prudent as a coach to let them try."