Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Conn Smythe Question

The Stanley Cup playoffs continues towards their inevitable end, with the Red Wing poised to win the trophy if they can put down the Penguins tomorrow night at Joe Louis Arena. While the Cup may be a foregone conclusion, the Conn Smythe Trophy isn't as clear cut. Who will be this year's playoffs MVP?

Chris Osgood? Ozzie is arguably playing the best hockey of his career. Shutting out the Pens in the first two games was impressive, but so was the defense effort of his teammates. The last goalie to start the finals with two SOs? Martin Brodeur, 2003. Who won the Conn Smythe that year? Jean-S├ębastien Giguere, whose Ducks lost the series to New Jersey.

Henrik Zetterberg? Much has been written about his his work down two men in the third period of game 4. That penalty kill could very well be the defining moment of the 2008 finals and the next to last nail in Pittsburgh's coffin. But does one shift a Conn Smythe make? Granted he is also the Wings' leading scorer going into game 5.

Johan Franzen? Speaking of leading scorers, what if Franzen hadn't missed six games with a concussion? Unfortunately there's not a lot of sympathy for injury when it comes to league hardware. Just ask Sid the Kid.

Niklas Lidstrom? Being the first European captain to win the Cup won't likely affect the voting, but Lidstrom is often the best player on the ice. He's so good you barely notice him out there, despite quietly leading defensemen playoff scoring (along with teammate Niklas Kronwall) and logging 25+ minutes of ice time a night. The Conn Smythe is just about the only award this Future Hall of Famer hasn't won.

Sidney Crosby? Like him or not, he does lead playoff scoring. And as he won't be a nominee at the NHL Awards Show this year, Gary Bettman has to be secretly hoping Crosby doesn't go home empty handed.

Jaromir Jagr? I still hold out hope that Larry Brooks and friends can trip the last renewal clause in Jagr's contract. Hey, he still leads playoff scoring in points per game. C'mon, throw Rangers fans a bone here.

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