Point/Counterpoint: Who will win this season's Conn Smythe Trophy?

BY DI STAFF | MAY 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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Patrick Sharp

Hockey is starting to capture a national audience, in large part thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks’ impeccable run to begin the season. You know, the one in which they didn’t “lose” a game for the first 24 games.

Although the Blackhawks were clearly the best team to hit the ice this winter, they did so without one of their major contributors from seasons past, forward Patrick Sharp. Sharp, who was dealing with injury problems during the regular season and only played in 28 games, has finally regained his form — at just the right time.

Let us take into account that Sharp has scored only 6 goals the entire regular season. The Blackhawks have played in five games — with the sixth game being Wednesday night — and already, Sharp has hit the back of the net a team-high five times. His 5 goals trail only Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The reason Sharp should win the Conn Smythe Trophy this season is simple. He has been the best player on the best team. Alongside Marian Hossa, Sharp has carried this Chicago team and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

The main reason Sharp has been so productive this postseason has been his aggressiveness.  With his 22 shots on goal, Sharp ranks ninth in the NHL with 1.2 points per game.  He also has a mark of plus-4 while he has been on the ice; that’s good for 12th in the NHL.

One of the main things to note is how great Sharp has been, with a limited amount of playing time. In a lockout-shortened season, Sharp played a limited role this year — and just like that he has regained his form.

With Sharp rolling like this, it’ll be hard to take down the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

— by Nick Delaquila

David Krejci

There are several players in the NHL who are making the case to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP of the NHL playoffs. However, Boston Bruin forward David Krejci has made the strongest case for himself up to this point.

The 27-year-old Czech center was in the middle of the Bruins’ success in their first-round series against Toronto, scoring the overtime game winner in Game 4, while also registering 2 assists in the Bruins’ thrilling come-from-behind, never-been-done-before Game 7 overtime win that saw the Bruin’s erase a 3-goal deficit in 10 minutes and win the game in overtime.  He is currently averaging more than 2 points-per-game and is second in the league in plus/minus with a plus-9 through seven games.

With 13 points so far this playoffs, Krejci is tied for first in scoring with Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin.  He is second in goals with 5.

However, Krejci’s value to the Bs goes far beyond just putting the puck in the net.

That’s because Krejci brings new meaning to the term “multidimensional player.”  The first line center can be, and has been, utilized by the Bruins’ coaching staff in just about every situation possible: power-play, penalty kill, even strength, empty net, down by 2, up by 2. You name it, he does it.

Making his case even stronger is that he has been one of few Bruins to show up to every game in the first round. In contrast to teammates Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin, Krejci has been perhaps the only member of the Bruins, save for maybe goaltender Tuukka Rask, that has come to play every game and has made an impact, as evidenced by his stats. 

If you’ve ever watched the Bruins play, particularly this season, it becomes obvious that they are a much better team with Krejci firing on all cylinders.  Boston has always been a team that has prided itself on its deep crop of forwards and depth at every position, and this depth starts and ends with Krejci. 

While he may not be the most high-profile player in the league, if he keeps up his current play and the Bruins win the Cup, Krejci will have a Conn Smythe Trophy to go along with his second Stanley Cup ring.

— by Ryan Rodriguez

Corey Crawford

The Chicago Blackhawks are near-unanimous favorites to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals due in no small part to the outstanding play of netminder Corey Crawford.

Crawford and backup Ray Emery were awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy following the regular season, which is given to the goaltenders on the team who allowed the fewest goals. Crawford played in 30 of the Blackhawks’ 48 games, accumulating 19 wins and a 1.94 goals-against average.

In the first round of the playoffs, the native of Montréal sported a .950 save percentage, which was the highest of any goaltender who started at least three games. Crawford also allowed the fewest goals (7) of any first-round netkeeper with the same minimum requirements.

Heading into this season, the only question mark surrounding Chicago was its production at goalie. The Blackhawks rely on their speed and puck possession to drive their run-and-gun style. All they ask of their goaltender is to not be a liability and to stop the shots he should stop. Chicago can be a top-tier team without superstar-like play from the goaltender.

But that didn’t stop Crawford from emerging as one this season. He was as big of an asset as any Blackhawk this season, and he led his squad to a NHL-high 77 points in a lockout-shortened season.

The ’Hawks will face off with division rival Detroit in the second round. Crawford was 4-0-0 against the Red Wings in the regular season. He also had a 1.19 goals-against-average and saved 121 of 126 shots, good enough for a .960 save percentage.

Crawford doesn’t get mentioned with the familiar core names the Blackhawks have become known for recently. When you think of the Blackhawks, names such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Duncan Keith come to mind.

If Crawford continues playing at his current level, he’ll force his way into that conversation and be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

— by Ryan Probasco

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