Now that we are down to four teams, and now that we are through two round, it is probably a reasonable time to start looking at the top contenders for the Conn Smythe Trophy. Obviously, who wins will ultimately come down to which team hoists the Cup. There is only one player I could see winning the playoffs MVP trophy from a team that doesn’t win it all. It is also possible that a player could really emerge in the next couple of rounds and end up winning the Conn Smythe. However, as of right now, here’s my list of the current favorites.
I’ll start with the Kings, because they have the clearest favorite among the four teams, and they have the one player who I think could win it without winning Lord Stanley’s Cup as well. That would be, of course, Alec Martinez. No, wait, I mean Jonathan Quick. Like peas in a pod, those two. Quick, of course, won the award last year when Los Angeles won the title. He’s been perhaps even better this year. His .948 save percentage is outstanding. If he can stay close to this number, and if the Kings play in a long final series, maybe Quick could get a second Conn Smythe even without the victory. Then again, both Pittsburgh and Boston have strong options in their own right, so maybe not. I don’t see any other Kings player having a chance. Nobody else really sticks out to me.
Chicago is a less clear picture. Corey Crawford, despite a couple of off games, is third in the league with a .938 SV%. Plus, goalies are always a good bet. If it isn’t Crawford, the next most likely choices are Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Both have 11 points, but Sharp has seven goals to Hossa’s five. Duncan Keith probably has an outside shot too.
Pittsburgh is interesting. One, because they have a bunch of choices. Two, because of their situation in net. Tomas Vokoun has been excellent, he has a .941 SV%, but he hasn’t been the goalie since day one. He will likely have to be really tremendous down the stretch to win the Conn Smythe. I think Kris Letang is the leader right now. He’s tied with Evgeni Malkin atop the team with 16 points, but he has a better plus/minus, less penalty minutes and is, you know, a defenseman. Also, there’s a gentleman named Sidney Crosby who might end up with the award. He leads the team with seven goals and has 15 points of his own.
Lastly, there’s Boston. Tuukka Rask has been very good, he has a .928 SV%, but that’s the least impressive number of the four remaining goalies. David Krejci is the likely guy atop a list of an options right now, as he leads all scorers with 17 points. Nathan Horton is possible, as he has 12 points and is a plus-14. Then, there’s always Zdeno Chara. He has 11 points, is a plus-7, and remains huge.
Those are the names to keep in mind. Regardless, the Conference Finals should be very exciting. Both series begin tomorrow. Chicago against Los Angeles is at 5:30 Eastern on NBC Sports. Pittsburgh versus Boston is at 8:00 on NBC Regular. It begins!