Early Candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy

Posted: May 22, 2013 by smittz101 in Uncategorized

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Pittsburgh Penguins – Sidney Crosby

 It didn’t take long into these playoffs for Sid the Kid to start making headlines.  The hat trick in game 2 against the Ottawa Senators says it all.  Despite various injuries interrupting his career, he is ready to go for his second ring and will try to lead the Penguins to the promise land.  He was a little bit timid returning to game action after his broken jaw, but he is getting stronger each day.  His playmaking and hockey IQ are second to none in the league and if you want to see flashy passes and extreme poise then tune into the Pittsburgh Penguins ASAP.   Sidney Crosby, the face of the league, is surrounded by talent and will not disappoint.

 Boston Bruins – David Krejci

 Krejci is proving once again that his best performances are during playoff time, leading the league in assists and points so far.  This is a good sign for the big bad Bruins as this follows a similar trend to the 2010-11 playoffs.  Krejci has collected 12 goals and 11 helpers for 23 points in 25 games on route to a Stanley Cup.  He is looking very dangerous around the blue paint and has shown confidence to shoot when given the opportunity.  He is an essential component for the Bruins because he is the central player on their top line.  If Krejci is not playing well, then you can expect other players, such as Lucic and Horton, to suffer also.  Boston depends on a well-balanced attack and that line needs to be contributing.

 New York Rangers – Henrik Lundqvist

The Rangers have struggled to find the net, much like their regular season, and they rely heavily on their goaltending to win games.  They are lucky to have one of the best, if not the best, goaltender in the league in Henrik Lundqvist.  Although he showed signs of rust at the start of the season, King Henrik is more than warmed up at this point and steady as they come.  As I’m typing this, he just completely stoned Tyler Seguin on a break away in the second period of game 3.  He is always in great positioning to make high percentage saves and never gives up on a puck.  This is a guy with a lot of heart, passion for the game, and deserving of a Stanley Cup.

Ottawa Senators – Craig Anderson

Craig Anderson posted a 1.80 GAA and 0.950 SV% in the opening round against the division champs Montreal Canadiens.  He definitely has a more difficult task in front of him now, with the explosive Pittsburgh offence.  He let in 4 goals in game 1 and then another 3 goals in game 2 before being pulled.  However, he had a nice bounce back game in game 3 that silenced the critics and allowed Ottawa to sneak back into the series.  It is clear that the hopes and dreams of Senators fans coincide with the play of their star goaltender Anderson.  He has the ability to steal games and they will need him to in order to go deep.  Karlsson doesn’t have his usual swagger, Spezza is returning from injury, and the pesky Sens will need #41 more than anyone.

Chicago Blackhawks – Patrick Sharp

With all the talent on the Chicago Blackhawks, Patrick Sharp sometimes gets overlooked.  In fact, he went down with an injury during the regular season and the team was relatively unfazed.  They were in a winning groove for most of the shortened season and their overall team depth was on full display.  Now its playoffs and Patrick Sharp is carrying the Blackhawks, while the usual suspects Toews and Kane have regressed.  He is tied with Sidney Crosby for the lead in goals, averaging over 17 minutes in ice, a +5, and has a great shooting percentage.  As Pierre McGuire would say “Patrick Sharp is the real deal”.  He may be overshadowed by bigger names, but he is a crucial part of a very good team.

Los Angeles Kings – Jonathan Quick

There were a few hiccups in the first 2 games against the St. Louis Blues, but Jonathan Quick has to get consideration for MVP.  He immediately turned his game around and won 6 straight playoff games before the recent OT loss to San Jose.  He is a man on a mission right now, 1st in GAA and 2nd in save percentage.  He has collected two shutouts along the way and the Los Angeles Kings are in great shape to dispose of the Sharks.  As said in an earlier article, he is an extremely flexible and acrobatic goaltender that can make ridiculous saves.  His performance in last years playoffs were one of legend and Quick wants to add more hardware.  The Kings style of hockey is based around team defence and goaltending.  The only way they win is if Jonathan Quick continues his dominance and wins the Conn Smythe for the second year in a row.

San Jose Sharks – Logan Couture

It is a changing of the guard in San Jose.  Logan Couture will be the top dog going into next year and the aging veterans will take a back seat.  Since the season started and the playoffs commenced, he has been sending this message and getting it done.  After an awkward battle on the boards with the Kings’ Jeff Carter in game 3, Couture limped off the ice to seek medical attention.  He later returned to the game without complaint and netted the game winner in overtime.  The series is now 2-1 in favour of the Los Angeles Kings, but if he did not make that shot then the situation is much worse.  For a young kid in a big spotlight, he doesn’t shy away from the pressure and has proven to be a big game player.  Logan Couture currently sits 5th in playoff scoring and 1st on the San Jose Sharks.

Detroit Red Wings – Jimmy Howard

I thought long and hard about an MVP candidate for Detroit.  Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are stepping up to the plate and making all the right decisions on the ice.  They would seem like your typical choice for the Conn Smythe when all is said and done.  I would disagree this time around; Jimmy Howard is playing out of his skin and rewarding GM Holland for extending him.  The Detroit Red Wings did not want to pay top dollar for a goaltender, preferring to spend that money on the rest of the roster.  Holland finally caved and gave Howard a new contract this season for approximately $5.3 million per over 6 years.  I assure you the Red Wings would not be where they are today without this outstanding netminder.  In games 1 and 3 he faced over 40 shots from the most proficient offence in the Western Conference.  Howard was always rated as a sub-par goalie in the league, but he is gaining more recognition and continues to grow.

By: Andrew Smith – Lead Hockey Writer

Photo Credit: The Hockey Hall of Fame (www.hhof.com)

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