When you think of Corey Perry, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?
It's probably "uber-pest", "solid forward" or if you're Evgeni Nabokov, something of the four-letter variety.
But while Perry is all of those things, this season he's making it incredibly hard to not add "valuable" to that list.
As in, "Most Valuable."
Currently on a tear that has seen him pot 11 goals in eight games and lead Anaheim to six wins in their last eight games, Perry has played himself into the Hart Trophy conversation with a career season of 42 goals (2nd in the NHL), 83 points (6th), 12 power play goals (4th), and nine game-winning goals (T-2nd).
Would Perry be in your top three right now for MVP?
Along with Perry's increased production, he's also been given more responsibility on the ice by Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. Merely a spectator (or in the penalty box) while the Ducks have been shorthanded in the past, Perry is third among Ducks' forwards in time on the penalty kill (1:33).
His Hart detractors may say that he benefits from playing on arguably the NHL's best line with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, but if Henrik and Daniel Sedin can pile up the points playing with each other and likely win consecutive MVPs, that argument can't be held against Perry's case.
And while Perry has breached the 100 PIMs mark for the fourth season in a row, like Ryan Kesler, he's learned to calm down a bit and not put his team in a tough spot by spending two minutes in the penalty box as he told Mark Whicker of the Orange Counter Register:
Gone, for the most part, are the petulant cross-checks in the offensive zone that change a game's vibe and disrupt Carlyle's rotations.
"It was too much," Perry said. "We as a team were in the box a little too much early in the season. I just had to make a conscious effort to relax and play my style of game."
Now that he has scaled that obstacle Perry is free to go anywhere.
Maybe even Las Vegas for the postseason awards ceremony.
Even with his 100 PIMs, Perry has played much more disciplined hockey than earlier in the season. Since Jan. 1, Perry has compiled just 26 of his 100 PIMs on the season. And if you were wondering, there have been Hart Trophy winners that have broken the century mark in penalty minutes, with the last two players being Bobby Clarke (1974 and 1976) and Bobby Orr (1970 and 1972).
So can Corey Perry actually win the Hart Trophy? Given the attention already hoisted upon Daniel Sedin, Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Toews and Nicklas Lidstrom, Perry's late entrance into the discussion may be too little too late to ensure a trip to Las Vegas in June.