Now that we’ve reached the Stanley Cup finals, it’s time to start thinking about who could wind up winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. Both the Devils and Kings have a handful of guys to consider for the award, but we’re picking out three from each team to consider.
Here goes nothing.
Drew Doughty — Ken Hitchcock said Doughty was the best player in the second round and he’s looked every bit of the superstar he’s meant to be in the postseason. With two goals and eight assists he’s, by far, the leading blue line scorer for L.A.
Dustin Brown — Brown has been Mr. Everything for Los Angeles. Even strength he’s been a beast and shorthanded he’s given opponents nightmares. He’s physical, he’s skilled, and he’s leading the Kings in goals and points with every goal seeming to be a big one.
Jonathan Quick — Without Quick the Kings are toast most nights. He’s seen plenty of rubber and kept most of it out with a .946 save percentage. The Kings haven’t been superstars on defense but with Quick in goal they’ve been mopping the floor with opponents out West. Do the Kings even go anywhere without their Vezina Trophy finalist?
Ilya Kovalchuk — He’s leading the playoffs in points and is a goal shy of tying Danny Briere and Claude Giroux for the playoff lead. He’s been everything the Devils hoped he would be when they signed him to his monster deal two summers ago and, after finally escaping the first round, he’s settled in in glorious fashion.
Martin Brodeur — Brodeur might’ve been boned out of the 2003 Conn Smythe when Jean-Sebastien Giguere won it in losing fashion, but with how he’s played in these playoffs he might be able to land the one trophy that’s eluded him. Brodeur might be 40 years-old, but he’s looking like classic Marty all over again.
Zach Parise — He’s the captain and he’s had a huge postseason with seven goals and seven assists, trailing only Kovalchuk offensively. Being the captain means having to carry the team and he’s more than done his share of that, especially against the Rangers. Now if only they can get him locked up long-term…
Now it’s up to you to decide. Who takes home the Conn Smythe Trophy right now? Vote in our poll and let us know.
To the chagrin of the coaches and goalies, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are keeping things hectic during the second period of Game 7.
Kasperi Kapanen seems like he’s perpetually battling for a permanent/more prominent spot with the Maple Leafs, but it’s not for a lack of trying or moxie. He’s been hitting posts on some near-misses lately, but saved some magic for tonight.
You can see that in a 4-3 goal that currently stands as the Maple Leafs’ lead. Kapanen overpowers Brad Marchand and then outwaits Tuukka Rask for an absolutely tremendous shorthanded goal.
(Check out that goal in the video above this post’s headline.)
Impressive, especially considering who that came against. At one point, the Maple Leafs had converted on both of their shots on goal early in the second period to go from being down 3-2 to up 4-3. As mentioned after that wild first period, you have to wonder about both goalies’ confidence, but that’s especially true of Rask right now.
The two teams are also accruing some bumps and bruises, which must be to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s liking.
In the most dramatic instance, Brad Marchand ducked a high Zdeno Chara shot, leaving an unsuspecting Morgan Rielly to take a puck to the face. It’s a scary moment, although the good news is that Rielly was able to return for the beginning of the second period.
Chara also seemed stung by a blocked shot during the first period, as he took a puck to his ankle/foot area. He didn’t appear to miss any time, and it would be tough to imagine him not fighting through it during a Game 7, yet you wonder if the hulking defenseman’s mobility might be hindered after that.
The Bruins and Leafs already put on a show through 20 minutes. We’ll see who’s left standing to face the Bolts, whether this game ends in regulation or hits sudden death in a Game 7.
Jared Bednar of the Colorado Avalanche, Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins and Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights have been named as the three finalists for the 2017-18 Jack Adams Award. The winner of the award, voted on by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association and given to the the head coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success,” will be announced during the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.
The Case for Jared Bednar: With a full summer to work with compared to 2016-17, Bednar helped guide the Avalanche to a 47-point improvement and a trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2014. The production of their youth was key in the resurgence, with Bednar using 11 rookies throughout the season, tied for the most in the NHL. Led by Alex Kerfloot (43 points), J.T. Compher (23 points) and Tyson Jost (22 points), Colorado rookies played an NHL-high 419 games. The offense also posted its best numbers since 2006-07 with the number of goals scored (shootout excluded) increasing from 165 last season to 255 in 2017-18.
The Case for Bruce Cassidy: During his first full season in Boston, Cassidy led the team to 50 wins and 112 points, the Bruins’ fourth-highest total in 40 years. Like Colorado, the Bruins received contributions from their kids with an NHL-best 58 goals from rookies in 2017-18. Cassidy’s impact extends back to when he took over for Claude Julien over a year ago. The Bruins went 18-8-1 in final 27 games of last season to help return to the playoffs following a two-year absence. This season, Boston cruised through the regular season and was in contention until the final few days for not only the top spot in the Eastern Conference but also the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Case for Gerard Gallant: What else can you say about the job Gallant, an Adams finalist for the second time, and the Golden Knights did during an historic inaugural season? Vegas finished with 51 wins and 109 points to become the first modern-era expansion team from any of the four major North American professional sports leagues to win its division. After a hot start, the Golden Knights saw their goaltenders hit with injury, which included losing Marc-Andre Fleury to a concussion for two months. They would use four netminders to stay afloat and set an NHL record on Feb. 1 with their 34th win, most by a team in its first season.