CHICAGO — No debate necessary. Duncan Keith has been awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2015 NHL playoffs.
Keith scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal Monday at the United Center, capping a spectacular postseason run for the 31-year-old defenseman, who finished the playoffs with three goals and 18 assists.
Keith’s 21 points were by far the most of any defenseman, seven more than Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman.
But it was the time he logged on a depleted Blackhawks blue line that drew the most acclaim. In 23 games, he never played less than 24:05. In total, he spent over 700 minutes on the ice, almost 100 more minutes than second-place Hedman, who played in three more games.
Keith’s goal tonight perfectly illustrated his offensive abilities. Jumping into the rush as he does so effectively, he took a perfect pass from Patrick Kane at the Lightning blue line, wristed a shot that was saved but not controlled by Ben Bishop, then swooped around Cedric Paquette to snap the rebound high past the sprawled Lightning goalie.
A defenseman has received the Conn Smythe Trophy on just 10 occasions since it was first awarded in 1965. Keith is the first defenseman to be recognized since Scott Niedermayer was for the Ducks in 2007.