I don't want to wade too far into the Hart Trophy eligibility debate, in part because so much has already been written on the topic, but more because there really should be no debate in the first place.
Don't think Alex Ovechkin should be a candidate for League MVP if the Caps fail to make the playoffs? Sorry, Charlie, but that horse left the corral (most recently) two decades ago when Mario Lemieux won his first Hart and his Pens hit the links after the last day of the regular season.
But was Mario's 1987-88 season so otherworldly as to deserve special consideration? Sure. In fact, it was a lot like Ovie's 2007-08 season. Super Mario led the League in goals with 25% more than the second place finisher and in points with 13% more than the runner up. Ovechkin currently leads the League in goals with 21% more than the second-ranked player and has 5.7% more points than the NHL's second-leading point-getter. Lemieux had a plus-23 rating, Ovechkin has a plus-27 rating. Mario had 75% more goals than his nearest teammate, Ovechkin has 152% more. And so on and so forth (oh, and Ovechkin has already tied a 15-year-old mark for most goals ever in a single season by a left wing).
So with similar individual achievements, let's look to the teams. Mario's Pens finished dead last in the Patrick Division, ninth overall in the Wales Conference, missing the playoffs by two points. Ovechkin's Caps? Well, we'll see.
Point being, any conversation about how Ovechkin may not be worthy of Hart consideration had best begin with a repudiation of Mario's first Hart win and a call for him to surrender his ill-gotten award. At that point, perhaps there can be a debate. Until then, however, I'm fine sticking with precedence and not debating a question that has already been asked and answered.