Before we begin, I fully understand that we are only into the semifinals within these Stanley Cup Playoffs; but with the way certain players have shown elevation in their game, I feel this discussion needs to begin.
The Conn Smythe Trophy is handed out to the Most Valuable Player over the course of the playoffs for his team. This year, if we may, the discussion has already begun as to who the favorites are to win this prestigious award.
When you can score in the playoffs like Mario Lemieux (no I'm not comparing the two), your team will usually win. Although the Canucks are heading home in their series with the Chicago Blackhawks tied at one game a piece, Samuelsson has provided plenty of offense for the club. Through eight playoff games Samuelsson has scored eight goals, added four assists and has a plus-eight rating.
He's been the sniper that the Habs have been waiting for since the departure of Alex Kovalev's talent. When the Habs signed Kovalev, they felt they were going to get a pure goal-scorer; but Kovalev left his goal-scoring ability in his agent's office when he signed his hefty contract in Montreal. 'Cammer' is providing bang for the buck. And plenty of it. Finding his scoring touch and taking it to the next level within these playoffs has helped Montreal in battling against the league's top teams. As mentioned earlier, between Halak and Cammalleri, the President's Trophy winners have already been eliminated and the defending champs have already been defeated once in their series.
It is no secret that the Boston Bruins are up 2-0 in their series with the Philadelphia Flyers due to the man they call "Tuuuuuuuukkka". In eight playoff games (his first ever postseason), Rask has an amazing 6-2 record with a 2.27 goals against average and a stellar .922 save percentage. Taking over the number one role from reigning Vezina Trophy-winner Tim Thomas has provided the Bruins with plenty of hope, especially now in the playoffs.
Crosby has been playing like a man possessed. On the ice he has been nothing short of a pure player. Currently leading all playoff performers with 16 points through eight games, what more can be said for the Canadian youngster who already has a resume of accolades that many players can not say they earned over the course of their entire careers.
Crosby is a very talented and very gifted player. Playing on, who I feel to be, the most complete team in these playoffs doesn't seem to affect Crosby or his game one way or another. In every shift played, he provides the Penguins with a serious offensive threat. A threat that can dominate not only a game but an entire series on its own (as proven against Ottawa).
Taking matters into his own hands is the way Halak has played so far this post-season. Magician-like through the opening round of the playoffs, the Montreal Halak-iens were able to defeat the top-seeded team in the NHL, the Washington Capitals. A record, currently, of 5-3 in the post-season might not be one of merit but his .931 save percentage stands out as it is top among the remaining netminders. After a poor performance in Game 1 of these semifinals, Halak rebounded with another fine outing which helped Montreal tie the series and split the first of two on the road.
"The Big" is on fire. He and Dan Boyle have carried this team to a 2-0 series lead here in the second round over Detroit. But Pavelski has provided all season long, and here within the second season, that he has truly taken his game up to a new level. He is the second leading scorer in the playoffs behind only Crosby, but his nine goals are best. In eight games, Pavelski is a plus-7 with five goals coming on the power play.
Making up the offense that has disappeared from the top names in San Jose has helped the Sharks take a two games to none lead over the Detroit Red Wings and has given Pavelski plenty of mentions when discussing the Conn Smythe candidates.
Craig Anderson would likely have his name at the top of this list if the Avalanche would have upset the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately for Anderson and the Avs, they have to wait until next season to have a better playoff outcome. However, Anderson's .933 save percentage still remains the postseason's best at this time.
There is plenty of hockey left and we are likely to witness a change in names for this discussion as we head into the Conference Finals. However, if all remains on course, one of the aforementioned players could very well skate away at the end of the playoffs with two prizes.
Until then, enjoy the hockey games.
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