Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kovalchuk Scoring Points with MVP Effort

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kovalchuk Scoring Points with MVP Effort

Article excerpt

Ask Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk who he'd pick to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player this season and he names two Atlantic Division rivals - Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Malkin, a runner-up for the Hart in 2008 and 2009, leads the league in points with 85 and carried the Penguins while Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal were out with injuries. Lundqvist is having a career season for the Blueshirts and is the main reason they've been at or near the top of the Eastern Conference standings all season.

Kovalchuk might have received more than a brief mention - outside of New Jersey - in the Hart conversation if his first half was as good as his second half has been. His first half wasn't as bad as in 2010-11, but he really didn't take off until around New Year's.

Beginning with a one-goal, two-assist performance in a 3-1 win over Pittsburgh on Dec. 31, Kovalchuk has 19 goals and 25 assists in his last 35 games, including a pair of hat tricks. …

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