As the 2014-15 NHL season enters its final week, the stage is becoming set for what promises to be another spring full of entertaining playoff hockey. While the teams assured of a playoff berth are preparing to ditch their razor blades for the immediate future, others are dusting off the golf clubs as they welcome an early start to summer. One of the teams who will be hitting the links early is the Philadelphia Flyers. While they will not have the opportunity to lift a 40-plus pound trophy in a few months, they are still in the running to add one of the NHL’s individual awards to their trophy case.
Through 77 games, forward Jakub Voracek has 21 goals and 56 assists for 77 points. Just three points behind leader Sidney Crosby, Voracek has five games left to potentially catch and pass the Penguins superstar and claim the league’s Art Ross Trophy which is given to the player who scores the most points. To add complications to the matter, John Tavares and Alexander Ovechkin sit between Crosby and Voracek thus making the race a tad more cloudy.
Let’s look at the current top-four and assess where they might finish once the regular season comes to an end.
Love him or hate him, Crosby is one of the best players in the world. ‘Sid the Kid’ has already captured the scoring title twice and is climbing the Penguins all-time ranks along with Evgeni Malkin.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 2, 2015
So far, Crosby has tallied 26 goals, 54 assists and 80 points for a Penguins team with 42 wins, 95 points and Stanley Cup aspirations. The most impressive thing about Crosby is that he has managed to stay consistent while playing with multiple linemates including David Perron, Patric Hornqvist, Blake Comeau and Steve Downie to name a few.
With five games left (Columbus, Philadelphia, Ottawa, New York Islanders and Buffalo), Crosby will certainly have a chance to add to his slim lead.
Odds of winning Art Ross Trophy-3:1
When John Tavares was granted exceptional status by the OHL in 2005 and able to compete as a 14-year-old, hockey fans around the globe could realize how special he was. For an already elite player, his game is continuing to improve and the captain is carrying the Islanders right back to the playoffs and to one of the better records in the NHL.
John Tavares is the first Islander with 35+ G & 40+ A in a season since Ziggy Palffy in 97-98. #Isles
— Kevin Dexter (@K_Dexter) April 3, 2015
Tavares and the Islanders have four games left (Buffalo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Columbus) and aside from the tilt with the Sabres, the Isles will have their hands full with three, tough Metropolitan rivals to close the season. If his late-season surge continues, Tavares might be able to add to his 35 goals and 44 assists, a feat that could see him leapfrog Crosby for good.
Odds of winning Art Ross Trophy-4:1
Alex Ovechkin is no stranger to scoring points and has previously won the Art Ross Trophy in 2007-08. He will likely be the only player that will break the 50 goal mark and his 52nd of the season was also the 473rd of his career, making him the Capitals all-time leader.
Alexander Ovechkin scores his 51st of the season. That puts him #1 all-time for goals in Washington Capitals history pic.twitter.com/1Pl0P3EK16
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) April 3, 2015
Ovechkin has managed to score 79 points to date while playing solid, two-way hockey, which is a testament to the influence head coach Barry Trotz has had on him this season. Ovechkin and the Caps have stiff competition in their remaining four games (Ottawa, Detroit, Boston and the New York Rangers). However, Ovechkin is the type of player that can score anytime, anywhere against any opponent. With the Capitals back in the playoffs and Ovechkin playing well with Nicklas Backstrom, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team make a deep run and for Ovechkin to walk away with the scoring title.
Odds of winning the Art Ross Trophy-4:1
The NHL’s league leader in assists is having a breakout year and has been a bright spot on a team that will now miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
Jake Voracek (@jachobe) now has more assists (56) than 813 players have total points this season. He leads the league in apples.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) April 2, 2015
Playing primarily with Claude Giroux and either Brayden Schenn or Michael Raffl, Voracek has been the Flyers most consistent forward and is averaging a point per game in a season that is unlikely to produce a single player with 90+ points. Although he has a scorer’s touch and has done so 21 times this season, Voracek is really coming in to his own as one of the league’s top playmakers.
This slap pass from Jake Voracek is unreal. pic.twitter.com/Pr2Fp1eVEo
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) April 2, 2015
With five games left (Carolina, Pittsburgh, New York Islanders, Carolina, Ottawa), Voracek has as good of a chance as any to overtake the league lead in points and end the Flyers disappointing season on a high note.
Odds of winning the Art Ross Trophy-5:1
Although the Flyers will not have the luxury of displaying a new championship banner in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center next season, it is very possible that the Art Ross Trophy might be on display to remind the orange and black’s faithful that the future looks bright with Jakub Voracek in the mix.
Who is your choice to win the Art Ross Trophy this season? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter @healedbyhockey