Although it is too soon to choose a playoff MVP -- the Stanley Cup hasn't even been awarded yet -- we can say who our choice would be if the series were to end today. The Bruins may be down 3-2 in this confrontation of closely matched teams, but they have shown the best team defense in the league. In particular, Tuukka Rask has been by far the best goaltender in this season's playoffs, performing well against the Toronto Maple Leafs (.923 save percentage) and New York Rangers (.936) before completely smothering the league's best offensive team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Even if the Bruins lose, you can make a strong case for Rask as the playoff MVP. Consider the previous player to win the Conn Smythe from the losing team, goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere with Anaheim in 2003. Giguere finished that playoff run with a save percentage of .945 and a goals-against average of 1.62. That's not far from Rask's current totals: .941 and 1.83.
Some credit for Rask's performance also should go to his teammates, especially defenseman Zdeno Chara; after all, this team won the Stanley Cup just two years ago with Tim Thomas in net. Consideration also should be given to the Blackhawks' stars, especially Patrick Kane, who has been the most dynamic scorer of the finals. But if we had to pick a player right now as the playoff MVP, Rask would be our choice.
Conn Smythe Power Rankings
are through Game 5 of the Finals.
Despite being down 3-2, Rask actually has better numbers than
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford in the finals, stopping 93.6 percent of the
shots he's faced to Crawford's 92.6 percent.
Krejci has all but locked down his second playoff scoring title
in three seasons even though he's only produced a decent-but-not-spectacular
four points in the finals. He has scored 58 playoff points in the past four
seasons, best in the league.
Horton hasn't been incredibly productive in the finals, with
only two points and six shots in five games.
Generally speaking, all Crawford needs for a victory is two
goals: Of the 16 games where the Blackhawks have scored two or more goals in
the playoffs, they have won 15 of them.
Kane leads the Blackhawks with three goals and five points in
the finals, and if the playoff MVP were given for the final round alone, he
should be considered the front-runner for the Conn Smythe. He is second in
playoff scoring during the past four seasons with 57 points, one behind
Like Kane, Lucic leads the Bruins with three goals and five
points in the finals, and also has managed to stay out of the penalty box,
where he typically has cost his team a penalty every two games.
Bickell has been placed on Kane's line for the past few games,
collecting three assists. He is fourth in ice time among Chicago forwards in
Hossa is making his fourth finals appearance in six years. The
Blackhawks haven't lost in regulation in any of the four finals games he has
played in; he's also taken 22 shots in those four games.
Chara has played more than 624 minutes in the postseason, by far
the most of any player in the league. He's also played the second-most
minutes in shorthanded situations, behind only Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Although Keith has been quiet offensively in the finals, he
continues to be the rock of the Chicago defense, playing a team-high 27:33 a
game, second in the NHL only to Chara.