The Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are both one win away from the Stanley Cup Final, but the MVP performers that have kept the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks pointed towards a championship aren’t done yet.
So which MVP performers deserve to be the MVPs of the postseason?
Here’s how we see the field through the first two rounds. Please keep in mind that for the Conn Smythe Watch, we weigh candidates more if their teams appear headed for advancement. Also keep in mind that we’re ranking these players with the Professional Hockey Writers Association’s potential voting favorites in mind.
Here are the top 10, as we see them now:
10 – Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins (4)
Hey, you never know. Maybe Fleury rides to the rescue again if some misfortune befalls Matt Murray. As it stands, he has a .924 save percentage and the honor of being The Reason The Penguins Are In This Position, even if he’s the backup now.
9 – Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators (8)
Look, the magic is about gone, but eight postseason goals are eight postseason goals, and if he does anything to lead the Senators back from the brink he’ll still be in the MVP mix as the playoffs’ biggest surprise.
8 – Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins (NR)
He’s catching fire at the right time, with five points in his last four games, including the lone goal in the Penguins’ critical Game 2 win in the conference final.
7 – Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks (7)
Nine goals gives him a tie for most in the postseason, and he continues to be one of the best two-way forwards in the playoffs.
6 – Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (5)
How can a player leading the playoffs in points (23 in 17 games) sit sixth overall for the Conn Smythe? Honestly, because through two rounds and five games, there are two players there are more vital to the Penguins’ playoff journey than Malkin. While one is on the bench now, the other is … later on the list.
5 – Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators (10)
His six-game point streak spans the entire Western Conference final and the elimination game against the St. Louis Blues. If he continues his offensive output without Ryan Johansen as his center, his stock will continue to climb.
4 – Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks (3)
Getzlaf’s had a bit of a struggle, with no points in his last three games and just three points in his last seven. (All of those points coming in Game 2 against the Predators.) His heavy lifting from earlier in the postseason can’t be ignored.
3 – Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators (1)
He has 15 points in 17 games, and is averaging 27:29 time on ice. Guy Boucher’s fun-sucking system should be credited with dragging the Senators this far, but it’s Karlsson who’s done it all for them on the ice.
2 – Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (9)
Yes, Crosby over Malkin. He has 19 points in 16 games, but it’s about the big moments when it comes to the Conn Smythe. He had an assist on a key goal in Game 7 against the Capitals. He had a goal and an assist in a critical Game 4 win in Ottawa, and then repeated the feat in their 7-0 rout in Game 5. Malkin has the points lead, but with Fleury on the bench we’re giving the MVP advantage to Sid.
1 – Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators (2)
Rinne has a .942 save percentage, a 1.62 goals-against average and two shutouts thus far. That includes a 32-save effort in Game 5 on the road after losing Johansen. He’s been extraordinary, and the MVP by far in these playoffs.
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