Adam Oates coaches the Capitals, which means he coaches Alex Ovechkin. So of course he’s going to be “very biased” when discussing the Most Valuable Player candidacy of the man who has put the Caps on his back like a big ol’ piano and carried the team to the cusp of the NHL playoffs.

“Obviously, Alex has really led our team, and you see it every night now,” Oates said. “Obviously, every team that we play, they have to focus on him. And he’s in a good place and his linemates have played great for him and he’s helped them. I think that line has carried us … a lot of positive things.”

Bias aside, Oates makes some good points. The Caps have won eight straight going into Thursday’s game at Ottawa. They are 14-3-1 in their past 18. Ovechkin has 19 goals and eight assists in that stretch. He scored two goals in the team’s first 10 games. He now leads the league in goals

But Oates is biased. So let’s go outside the house, so to speak, and get some thoughts on whether Ovechkin has a realistic chance to add a third Hart Trophy (the NHL names everything) to his collection.

Stephen Whyno, The Times’ hockey writer, has a vote and would put the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby first and Ovechkin second if he had to vote now. Tough to argue that, though Oates says, “You have to factor in the fact [Crosby has] missed a lot of games.” Crosby still leads the NHL in scoring despite missing six games with a broken jaw.

This guy, who doesn’t have a vote, is wishy-washy. Crosby is a marvelous player who may be able to walk on water and then turn it into wine. We’re frankly a little surprised he hasn’t healed his own jaw already. But the award is for MVP of this season, not overall greatness. Crosby can’t be faulted for his team being strong all season. Ovechkin has lifted his team out of a serious hole, pretty much changed the whole tenor of the Caps’ play. That has to count for something.

From further away, former NHL executive and current NHL Network analyst Craig Button has watched plenty of Caps’ games. He marvels at the way Ovechkin has made some adjustments to his game. While Button won’t come out and declare Ovechkin the MVP at this point, he does say, “There’s no question he has to be one of the three finalists.