With all due respect to Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, whom I both admire for their skills and talent, the best player in the National Hockey League right now has to be Alexander Ovechkin.
If there's a player in the NHL more valuable to his team this season than Ovechkin, if there's one more talented and more exciting, I've yet to see him play.
What's put Ovechkin a cut above in my opinion is his goal-scoring ability. He drives to the net with a bulldog tenacity not seen in a goalscorer since the great Maurice Richard. He simply will not be denied. From the blueline in there's nobody better in the NHL right now.
Ovechkin also handles the heavy physical play, as capable of dishing out punishment as he is in absorbing it.
His offensive wizardry puts me in mind of another Rocket, the Russian one named Pavel Bure. Unlike the Russian Rocket however Ovechkin seems better able to withstand the heavy going.
Speed, skill and toughness combined in one package is enough, but nobody puts it all together with the ebullience for scoring like Ovechkin. As more than one commentator has noted, the kid loves to score goals, and his enthusiasm has been infectuous amongst his teammates.
The best example of how exciting Ovechkin is can be summed up in the goal he scored against the NY Rangers during Game Five of the Capitals-Rangers series.
If you can't appreciate the skill that went into scoring that goal and how exciting it was to watch it then you're not a hockey fan.
In that one goal we see everything that makes Ovechkin the NHL's brightest star.
If someone else wins the Hart this season in my opinion Ovechkin remains the NHL's best player.
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