NHL notes: Ovechkin or Crosby for MVP? Caps coach weighs in

Washington Capitols Alex Ovechkin (8) battles Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby (87) in the first...

Washington Capitols Alex Ovechkin (8) battles Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby (87) in the first period of their NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February 7, 2013. (REUTERS/David A. DeNoma)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 PM ET

Adam Oates "biased" opinion is that Ovie’s "absolutely" the NHL’s MVP this season.

The Washington Capitals coach laid out Alex Ovechkin’s resume following Tuesday night’s 5-1 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs, a performance he said moved him in front of his closest competition for MVP, Sidney Crosby.

“I’m obviously very biased about that,” Oates told the Washington Times after Ovechkin’s two-point performance against the Leafs.

“Obviously Sidney Crosby is another candidate, for sure. He had such a scoring lead, but I think you’ve got to factor in the fact he’s missed a lot of games.”

Crosby, who still leads the NHL with 56 points, hasn’t played since taking a puck to the face on March 30.

Since then, the Caps are unbeaten in 10 games, with Ovechkin collecting 12 goals, pushing him ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning centre Steven Stamkos for the league lead.

“Obviously Alex has really led our team, and you see it every night now,” Oates said. “He’s in a good place and his linemates have played great for him and he’s helped them. I think that line’s carried us.”

The Capitals began April seven points behind then-Southeast Division leaders Winnipeg, but have since racked up 19 points to move atop their division and into the No. 3 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

PREDS READY TO RE-TOOL

Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz is sure of two things heading into May: His club will miss the NHL playoffs for just the second time since 2003, and sweeping changes are on the horizon.

“I think you have to put everything in perspective, exactly where we are,” Trotz told the Tennessean Wednesday. “You have to be realistic in everything that we do.”

For Trotz, that means putting his players on notice without sugar-coating potential roster turnover in the off-season.

“I know we’re going to have to have a very busy summer and make sure we fill holes.”

One of the holes left unfilled was Norris Trophy candidate Ryan Suter, who departed for Minnesota as a free agent before the season.

“Obviously, (general manager) David (Poile) has a game plan,” Trotz hinted. “It’s probably inappropriate for me to comment on it.”

The Preds have lost nine of 10 games dating back to last month and are currently last in the goals per game (2.23) category.

BRUINS GIVE BIG

The Boston Bruins announced an initiative Wednesday that will provide $250,000 in funds to families impacted by this week’s Boston Marathon bombings.

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs pledged to donate $100,000 on behalf of his organization to establish a fund to raise money for those affected.

“Our family has been touched by the heroic moments of so many individuals and the strength and resiliency of this community,” said Jacobs. “On behalf of our entire family, we pledge our unwavering support.”

Along with the Bruins, TD Garden, the NHL and NHLPA will be making donations of $50,000 each.

Eighty tickets have also been distributed to the families of first responders in the wake of the terror attack.

BRIEFLY

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock isn’t making much of the fact he joined an elite class this week. “It’s basically because I’m old,” he joked with reporters after the Blues beat the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout. Hitchcock is just the 11th coach in NHL history to achieve 600 wins … The Calgary Flames announced Wednesday they’ve signed Swiss goalie Reto Berra to an entry-level contract. The Flames acquired Berra, who’s currently playing for Biel of the Swiss A league, along with defenceman Mark Cundari and a first-round pick from the Blues earlier this month in exchange for defenceman Jay Bouwmeester … Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen could return to the lineup Thursday after missing three games with a groin injury. After participating in full practice Wednesday, Lehtonen told the Dallas Morning News he’s ready to return as the Stars push for the final playoff spot in the West … The Philadelphia Flyers announced Wednesday they’ve re-signed tough guys Zac Rinaldo and Jay Rosehill to a pair of two-year deals. Through 39 games this season, Rinaldo and Rosehill have a combined 132 penalty minutes … Pentii Lund, the first Finnish-born player to register an NHL goal, has died at the age of 87. Lund, who died Monday in Thunder Bay, Ont., featured as a winger with the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins during the 1940s and 50s before being inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.


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