Here's the burning question for the day, or really for the rest of the regular season, with less than a month to go.
Say Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby manages to win 44 games this season — he needs three to tie the victory total by Montreal goalie Carey Price last season, when he was the NHL's most valuable player — or succeeds in surpassing the NHL record of 48, held by the now-retired Martin Brodeur.
How could voters deny putting him first on their MVP ballots?
Maybe 88 reasons . . . as in the jersey number worn by the NHL's scoring leader, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. Or maybe it should be 89, the number of points Kane has this season.
If TSN network analyst Ray Ferraro had a vote, he'd select Kane. Broadcasters, by the way, do not vote on that particular award.
“In a year where scoring is so low, he absolutely stands out for me,” Ferraro said.
Kane, who has 38 goals, has a 12-point lead over Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars and is up by 17 points on No. 3 Tyler Seguin, Benn's teammate. Kane's season has been sensational and remarkably consistent, but if it seems as though he has cooled off a bit, that would be correct.
Through Dec. 31, Kane had 23 goals and 56 points in 39 games, and since Jan. 1, he has 15 goals and 33 points in 31 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Cooling off is a relative term, of course, when it comes to Kane's numbers this season. In his last five games he has one goal, and no points in the last three of those.
Kane led Benn by 15 points on Jan. 20, and since Jan. 21 Kane has eight goals and 18 points in 21 games. Bob Waterman of Elias helpfully crunched more numbers, and for points recorded since Jan. 21, Kane was in a 15-way tie for 45th place in points. Benn slowed down, too, with a 13-game run from January into early February in which he scored six points.
Rob Scuderi started this season in Pittsburgh with luminaries Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and was a teammate of Kane's before getting traded to the Kings on Feb. 26. Scuderi would have seen plenty of Holtby and the Capitals when he was with Pittsburgh, and the Kings faced Washington last week.
Scuderi pondered the MVP question.
“There's still a little under a quarter of a season left to play and some things can change. If he [Holtby] keeps up that pace, he's going to come pretty close to it,” said Scuderi, speaking of the Brodeur record, set in the 2006-07 season with the New Jersey Devils.
“At the same time, having played with Patrick and seen what he's done this year so consistently, at that level, he would probably edge Holtby. They're both worthy of the award. Some years it's easier to pick than others. In my opinion — right now — Kane would edge Holtby.”
Right now is the key. It might be considered a two-player race for the award in mid-March but there is much hockey to be played, as Kings Coach Darryl Sutter helpfully suggested Monday. Voting takes place at the end of the regular season.
“We'll see where everybody is in a month. They should vote on all of the awards in June,” he said, including the playoffs. “Not whenever it [the voting] is. Every one of them [awards].”
There was plenty of interest in Chicago in revisiting last month's defenseman-for-defenseman swap — Scuderi going from the Blackhawks to the Kings in exchange for Christian Ehrhoff.
Both had been buried in the minors. Then Scuderi played nearly 20 minutes in his first game back with the Kings and had back-to-back efforts of 23-plus minutes against Vancouver and Washington. Ehrhoff, meanwhile, seems a much better fit for Chicago's system.
“It's just a different style of play,” said Ehrhoff, who didn't play Monday against the Kings. “The defensive style is more like a zone play, defending more with your stick, and that's something that can suit me a little better. That's about it.”
Ehrhoff didn't want to talk about what went wrong in Los Angeles but said that the teams had been talking about a deal well before the trade went down.
The multiple moves have been difficult for the Scuderi family. He has four children, including a 1-year-old.
“The toughest thing is having your family bounce around behind you,” Scuderi said. “I can handle the hockey part. It's not the ideal situation, but I can handle it.
“We had a great situation here [in Chicago]. It was a great place to live. It's not the same if you're not together. They've been troupers, especially the two older ones. It makes it all the more special when you can spend time together, so I'm happy to have them out to California.”
Get ready for possible delays in the playoffs.
Only in this case, the adjustment — adding blue-line cameras in all arenas for the playoffs — will be a welcome one, assisting officials on challenged offside calls.
Colin Campbell, the NHL's director of hockey operations, called the move a tweak when he spoke with reporters at the general manager's meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. “It's not a rule change. It's helping make the process better,” he told Yahoo Sports.