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Darcy Kuemper, Minnesota Wild
Kuemper allowed four goals on 17 shots before being pulled midway through the second period of a 4-7 loss to the New Jersey Devils and has not recorded a win since Feb. 18.
Should Sidney Crosby be in the Hart Trophy race?
@Real_ESPNLeBrun: Should Sidney Crosby be getting more Hart Trophy consideration? Two more goals for the Penguins' captain Thursday night in another crucial win, a 4-3 comeback victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, and No. 87's point streak is now at 10 games (6 goals, 7 assists) as he tries to will his team into the playoffs. I mention his MVP candidacy because with Evgeni Malkin out with injury for a second time this season, Crosby has absolutely carried this team in the second half. We all know about his early-season struggles, but there he is now with 72 points (31-41) -- in the top five in the league in scoring -- while every game is huge for a Pittsburgh team trying to stay in a wild-card spot. I still think leading scorer Patrick Kane should win the Hart, but should Crosby at least be among the top three nominees? I say yes. What say you, gang?
@ESPN_Burnside: If only I hadn't stopped to get a coffee on my way to the computer, I would have looked like the one with the big brain raising this issue. Agreed that Kane's monster season should net him his first Hart Trophy (he'll become the first U.S.-born scoring champ in league history), but the rest of the ballot is increasingly difficult to figure out. It's not unlike a year ago when Carey Price was the runaway favorite and the challenge was finding the most worthy secondary nominees. I think Jamie Benn, whose Dallas Stars came up with a big win over Tampa on Thursday, should be in the mix. No question, though, that Crosby has shouldered his way into the conversation. The key for me is that even when he was not scoring at a pace we're accustomed to seeing, he played a strong 200-foot game. We don't think of him as a Selke Trophy-type of player, but maybe we should. The Penguins are going to be a playoff team and they're difficult to play against, even without Malkin in the lineup, and Crosby is leading the way once again.
@CraigCustance: During Dan Bylsma's last season as the coach in Pittsburgh, we chatted one day after a morning skate and he made a case for Crosby winning the Selke. All the injuries the Pens dealt with that season meant Bylsma deployed Crosby a little differently, against much tougher competition. Crosby's offensive numbers didn't suffer, and Bylsma felt like he deserved more consideration for the Selke because he had success against the opponents' best players every night. This season, according to behindthenet.ca, there isn't a forward on the Penguins' roster facing tougher competition on a nightly basis than Crosby. And yet, here he is averaging more than a point per game and once again reaching the 30-goal plateau. It's amazing, and I think Crosby-for-Selke is a discussion worth having. As for the Hart, he's in the conversation. The player I'm not sure what to do with there is Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. His season has been absolutely amazing and he deserves recognition, but the Senators aren't particularly good. That's not his fault, of course, but it complicates things. I think I'll still find room for him on my Hart ballot.
@ESPNJoeyMac: Crosby started playing well just before the coaching change in Pittsburgh, but it's no coincidence No. 87 has been on a tear since Mike Sullivan took over behind the bench earlier this season. Not that Crosby needs coaching, but a new voice and philosophy has gone a long way toward helping the Penguins reach and maintain playoff status. If the Penguins eventually earn a Stanley Cup playoff berth, Crosby has to be in consideration for the Hart Trophy. I'm not sure he wins it, but he should be in serious contention.
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