|Ovechkin and Boudreau honored in Caps' big night|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 12 June 2008 14:06|
Ovechkin, who led the NHL with 65 goals and 112 points, edged finalists Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the honor. The same trio was up for the Hart Trophy, to be handed out later Thursday as part of the league's end-of-season awards ceremony.
``I think I'm the happiest 22-year-old guy on the planet,'' Ovechkin said. ``Everything I've got I make myself. I'm working hard and I know it's improving.''
Ovechkin was the first player to score 60 goals since Mario Lemieux in 1996.
``I mean, 65, that's an awesome number,'' Iginla said. ``Every team that plays against him is trying to shut him down. I remember we played against him and we were trying our hardest. We were doing a great job for a while and then he got two goals. He only needs a crack.
``He's got such a great shot. He competes very hard and goes to the front of the net and can beat you so many ways.''
Ovechkin joined Sergei Fedorov (1994) as the only Russian-born players to win the Pearson.
Iginla, who captured it in 2002, recorded his second 50-goal season and a career-best 98 points in 82 games. The Flames captain also led his team with a plus-27 and nine winning goals.
Malkin, last season's rookie of the year, led the Penguins in scoring with 106 points (47-59) in 82 games. He had 46 points (20-26) in 28 games when Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby was sidelined with an ankle injury.
The Capitals were honored further following their Southeast Division title when Bruce Boudreau captured the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, beating out Mike Babcock of the Red Wings and Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens.
The 53-year-old Boudreau took over a team that was last in the Eastern Conference in late November and led them to the playoffs. The Capitals went 37-17-7 after he was hired on Nov. 22, and he reached 20 and 30 wins faster than any coach in franchise history.
The Capitals let coach Glen Hanlon go after the team got off to its slowest start in 26 years and hired Boudreau on an interim basis. It was his first time back in the NHL since appearing in 141 games as a player.
``I've sort of waited 32 years for this opportunity,'' Boudreau said then.
Babcock guided the Red Wings to their third straight 50-win season and was nominated for the Adams Award for the first time. Voting was done by select members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association before Babcock led Detroit to the Stanley Cup.
In other awards, Jason Blake of the Toronto Maple Leafs, diagnosed with leukemia just before the start of the regular season, received the Bill Masterton Trophy as the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
He lost 10 pounds after starting to receive treatment, but didn't miss a game.
``There's lots of guys that go through certain things throughout their career and you've got to give them credit,'' Blake said. ``I was very fortunate to play all 82 games and compete at the highest level.
``It's a great honor.''
He topped 46-year-old Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios and Edmonton Oilers forward Fernando Pisani for the award, which was voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.
Blake, 34, took a blood test during a preseason physical and was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, a rare but treatable form of cancer.
He started taking medication and had to battle weight loss while going through the tough NHL season. Physically, that was the toughest thing he had to overcome.
``That's not good for a hockey player,'' Blake said. ``You lose strength and you can't win battles that you normally win.
``You can't because you're too light on your feet.''
He finished with 15 goals and 52 points - totals lower than the season before with the New York Islanders.
``I just want to make sure that I'm back where I was two years ago,'' Blake said. ``I think that's the main thing right now.''
Pavel Datsyuk of the Red Wings took the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. Along with teammate Henrik Zetterberg, also a finalist for the award, Datsyuk helped shut down Crosby and the top line of the Penguins during the finals.
Datsyuk led the league with a plus-41 rating. He won the award for the first time, finishing in front of Zetterberg and New Jersey's John Madden.
The 29-year-old center also won the Lady Byng Trophy as the player who best demonstrates sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct. Datsyuk is the first player in 73 years to win the award three seasons in a row, dating to Frank Boucher of the New York Rangers, who captured it from 1933-35.
But the Russian playmaker figures it might be his last time taking home the trophy. He threw his weight around during the finals and scuffled with Pittsburgh's Gary Roberts in Game 2.
``Next year I don't think I will win this,'' Datsyuk said with a grin.
He'll need to pick up more penalty minutes if he wants to avoid winning a fourth Lady Byng. Datsyuk had only 20 in 82 games to go with a career-high 97 points.
Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jason Pominville of the Buffalo Sabres were the other finalists.
Datsyuk had 31 goals and 97 points for his best offensive season but also led the NHL in takeaways with 144. Mike Modano was next best with 86.
He also the topped Red Wings forwards with 42 blocked shots.