It is very difficult to argue against the three finalists for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP.
Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar, was the league's most dominant force this season and will surely win the award when it is handed out in late June.
Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning sniper, scored a remarkable 60 goals in an electrifying campaign.
And Henrik Lundqvist, the New York Rangers goalie, was the bedrock foundation upon which the East's best team was built.
But what about the Philadelphia Flyers star Claude Giroux? He finished third overall in league scoring despite missing seven games.
Not only did he emerge as a creative playmaker, he is a two-way star, as defensively diligent as he is offensively dangerous.
Most importantly, Giroux is a guy who scores game-winners when you need them rather than piling up points in a 7-1 blowout.
As he proved in the play-offs (which, it should be noted, has no bearing on MVP voting), he is the Flyers' answer to the Penguins' Sidney Crosby. And, for that matter, to Malkin.
All season, it seemed, the Hart race was between Malkin and Giroux, with Stamkos in the conversation but handicapped by the Lightning's residence near the bottom of the standings.
Lundqvist was mentioned, but so were a handful of other goalies. Again, the three finalists are all very deserving. But so is Giroux.
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