(Graphic courtesy of Puck Daddy and here's Greg Wyshynski's analysis):
The real story is Steven Stamkos getting 54 second-place votes. Wonder how many legitimately placed him behind Malkin and how many couldn't give the Hart to a player from a non-playoff team
Nice to see Geno's dominance recognized. Also, it's a bit passe to break the season down to head-to-head given how small of a sample size it is (and given the difference in the defenses and goalie play that Pittsburgh and Tampa got this year) but against the Lightning, Evgeni Malkin scored 8 goals and added 3 assists in 4 games. Stamkos only recorded 2 assists (and 0 goals) versus the Penguins. Might have been a little thing, but it was a big of a divide as the vote was.
--Saw some grief (mainly via rogue twitter-ers) about Malkin's comment: "It's the best day of my life, It's very exciting." BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CUP AND CONN SMYTHE HARF HARF went the criticism. Cut the guy a break. 16 months ago the man's knee was in shreds and he had to start from square one on a tough rehab all summer long. He came back in the best form and shape of his life, thanks to his dedication and hard work. Last night was the culmination of all of that and finally a very public indication from that hockey world that for the first time he was truly out of the shadows of Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, that have one way or another entrapped him for his entire career. So yeah, no reason he shouldn't be a little happy of his accomplishments and achievements from 2011-12. Almost every other breath Malkin's singular focus is to help his team win a Stanley Cup, he's said it over and over that's all he cares about, has pictures of in his house, etc. Give him his night.
--And how touching was it when Malkin dedicated the Hart to his "best friend" Sergei Gonchar at the end of the show? But think about it, from 2006 on Geno was dropped in a strange country where the language, customs and culture were all very foreign and very different from everything he knew. All of this at the age of 19. He had one countryman around and Gonchar basically adopted Malkin- took him into his house, had his wife cook traditional and familiar foods, Malkin learned some English with Gonchar's daughter watching American television, and on and on and on. Gonchar was the one life-line back to everything Malkin knew about who he was and how he grew up. Understanding that shows the emotion now that Geno has grown up and is able to fly on his own. The Penguins and their fans probably owe the Gonchar family and other type mentors (Mark Recchi for Jordan Staal, Mario Lemieux to Sidney Crosby) a lot more than we might think about on a day to day basis.
--Other Penguins receiving votes for awards:
- Kris Letang finished in 9th place for the Norris trophy (picking up three 3rd place votes and a handful of lower ones). Not bad at all for a guy who missed 30 games. If he can play a full season Letang, who's widely liked and admired personally and professionally by many in the national hockey media, is probably is going to pick up the steam and backing to be a finalist next year.
- Coach Dan Bylsma came in 6th for the Jack Adams trophy (picking up two first place votes).
- Ray Shero tied for 12th in General Manager of the year, picking up just one third place vote. Which seems a little low until you consider that Shero didn't really make a trade all season long.
- Sidney Crosby picked up a second place vote for the Lady Byng trophy for gentlemanly play. Not even sure who in their right mind made that vote. Pascal Dupuis and Matt Cooke also picked up a sole 3rd and 4th place vote, respectively.
- Marc-Andre Fleury received one third place vote for Vezina, reminding us all that he did have a pretty decent regular season. Fleury was also the only Eastern Conference goalie not named Henrik Lundqvist to show up with a vote.
- Jordan Staal finished 8th in Selke voting for defensive forward of the year, Dupuis came in 13th.
- And, as you can see in the chart at the top of this post, James Neal picked up two 5th place votes for the Hart trophy that Malkin ran away with.