Through five games here in the conference finals, the Conn Smythe Trophy favorites are starting to emerge from the pack – particularly in Los Angeles and New York. Who is the favorite at this time? Patrick and I debate…
By Ryan Porth
The Los Angeles Kings’ historically dominant playoff run has been fueled by two players: Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick. You can make a case that both of them have been equally as valuable to the team’s success.
Quick has been great, but Brown has been better.
When the Kings have needed a big play from one of its forwards, Brown has come through in the clutch dating back to the first round against Vancouver.
In Game 2 against Vancouver, Brown scored a pair of shorthanded goals and assisted on the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win. The Kings’ captain rose to the occasion in Game 3 of that series, scoring the game’s lone goal in the third period.
In the series-clinching game in Round 2 against St. Louis, Brown collected two goals including the game-winner. Overall, he tallied six points in the series and was a force every night.
That success has carried over into the conference finals, where Brown picked up a back-breaking goal in the third period of Game 1 to lift the Kings over Phoenix. Through three games, he has four points.
Brown’s impact goes beyond the offensive side of the puck. He, along with linemates Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, have been dominant in all three zones. Once they gain possession of the puck, it’s hard to get it back.
Brown has especially been a physical force in these playoffs, recording 60 hits in 12 games. He has also been valuable in the sense that he has gotten under the skin of his opponents, whether it was Vancouver, St. Louis, or now Phoenix.
It wasn’t any more evident than in Thursday’s Game 3 when Oliver Ekman-Larsson delivered a retaliatory cross-check to Brown late in the game with the Coyotes trailing 2-1. As a result, Los Angeles went on a power play that helped keep the Coyotes from threatening in a one-goal game.
Brown has done it all for the Kings this postseason, whether it’s come offensively, defensively or getting under the opponent’s skin. Not to take anything away from Quick, the playoff leader in goals-against average, but Brown has been the most valuable player during the Kings’ 11-1 playoff run thus far.
By Patrick Hoffman
When it comes to the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, there has been no shortage of great goaltending.
In fact, the four goaltenders remaining in these playoffs have been fantastic in getting their respective clubs this far and giving them a chance to play for hockey's Holy Grail. Jonathan Quick, Mike Smith, Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist have made this postseason all about the goaltenders and with good reason.
With that said, when it comes to which goaltender could/would win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league's MVP in the playoffs, the nod should go to the "King" on Broadway, Henrik Lundqvist.
Yes, the netminders mentioned above are all deserving of this prestigious award but when all is said and done, it is Lundqvist who should come away with the trophy.
For starters, without Lundqvist, there is no way the Rangers would have gotten this far. Take a look at how far the Rangers have come since Lundqvist joined the club after the lockout season. As a whole, the team and organization is better than they have been in well over a decade.
Secondly, Lundqvist came up huge when his team needed to in two elimination games against the Ottawa Senators and one elimination game against the Washington Capitals. Lundqvist stood on his head in those games, including two Game 7’s, and got the Rangers to where they needed to go.
When considering Lundqvist for the Conn Smythe Trophy, his statistics speak volumes of his play this postseason. Currently, Lundqvist has a 1.66 goals against average (2nd in the league), a .937 save percentage (3rd) and 2 shutouts (1st).
While the regular season means nothing come playoff time, Lundqvist's regular season was his best in his career and one that earned his his fourth Vezina Trophy nomination, a Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player and the Ted Lindsay Award as the league's most valuable player as voted by the players. For Lundqvist, a Conn Smythe Trophy would rightfully put him among the best goaltenders that have ever played the game.
It is Lundqvist's time and this postseason has proven that thus far.
Photos credit: Getty Images