Through two rounds, here are the top five candidates for the MVP (Conn Smythe Trophy) of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
1. Ryan Kesler, VAN
Stats: 13 GP, 5 G, 10 A, 15 Pts, +6
If it weren’t for Ryan Kesler, the Canucks may not have gotten out of Round 2… or Round 1. Ever since Game 7 of the first round against Chicago, Kesler has been the most dominant player when the Canucks take the ice. He put together one of the most memorable individual performances over the course of a series in the second round, as the Preds had no answer for him.
When Kesler isn’t scoring goals, he’s setting them up. When he’s not setting up goals, he’s dishing out hits. When he’s not dishing out hits, he’s dominating the faceoff circle. When he’s not dominating the faceoff circle, he’s taking care of business defensively. Oh wait, he’s done all of these things at once. You get the point.
Kesler has been the biggest force thus far in these playoffs and it’s helped the Canucks get to the third round for the first time since 1994.
2. Dwayne Roloson, TB
Stats: 11 GP, 8-3, 2.01 GAA, .941 SV%
I’m pretty sure that if Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was given 10 opportunities to trade Ty Wishart for the playoff-savvy Dwayne Roloson, he would have done it 10 times. The deal was worked out tremendously for Tampa Bay, who has reached the conference finals for the first time since they won the Cup in 2004. Their MVP of the first two rounds has undoubtedly been Roloson.
‘Roli’ has made a slew of huge saves en route to getting the Lightning where they are now. He recorded a shutout in Game 7 at Pittsburgh and had Washington’s number in crunch-time. Roloson surrendered just four goals in his team’s comeback from a 3-1 series deficit against the Penguins. He also has a .941 save percentage, which is pretty damn good for a 41-year-old.
3. Tim Thomas, BOS
Stats: 11 GP, 8-3, 2.03 GAA, .937 SV%
Ever since the opening two losses to Montreal in the first round, Tim Thomas has been lights-out. Thomas has especially been dynamite in overtime, where is 4-0; he’s been nothing short of spectacular in those games. The Vezina finalist has had some of the best individual goaltending performances in these playoffs.
I don’t know where Boston would be without Thomas between the pipes. The man who overcame off-season hip surgery to rise back to the cream of the crop should be considered a Conn Smythe contender.
4. Joe Thornton, SJ
Stats: 13 GP, 2 G, 9 A, 11 Pts, -2
It’s hard not to have Ryane Clowe on this list from San Jose, but Joe Thornton has been more consistent. His two-way game this postseason is only a smidge below Kesler’s. He has been tenacious on the defensive end and has won over 60 percent of his faceoffs. Though he only has two goals, both have been game-winners. He has also had some nice assists against Detroit.
In my opinion, ‘Jumbo Joe’ has shed his individual label of being a playoff underachiever.
5. Vincent Lecavalier, TB
Stats: 11 GP, 5 G, 7 A, 12 Pts, +4
Tampa Bay’s captain and leader, Vincent Lecavalier, struggled in recent years to stave off the injury bug. Now that he is healthy, the Lecavalier of old has made an appearance down the stretch and in the postseason. Lecavalier has 12 points already on the hottest team in the NHL right now. His Game 2 performance against Washington stands out above the rest, as he scored the overtime winner in what was a series-changing moment.
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