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Welcome to the first edition of our Conn Smythe Watch, which chronicles the ever-changing race for playoff MVP. This one is a just a glimpse at the current picture; we’ll make it a daily feature when Round 2 begins. Keep in mind that we factor in the probability of a long playoff run into these choices. Who are the current favorites for playoff MVP? Glad you asked.
The Ducks winger has seven points to tie Kevin Shattenkirk for the playoff lead, as Anaheim was the first team to punch its ticket for Round 2. Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf are also making strong cases. But Perry was a difference-marker in the sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, to the point where he angered fans so much they chanted "Katy Perry!" at him because they're super creative.
2. Scott Darling, Chicago Blackhawks
After Corey Crawford flopped to start their series against the Nashville Predators, his journeyman backup stepped in and has played brilliantly: .969 save percentage, 1.05 GAA and three wins. That includes 50 saves in the triple-OT win. His job to lose.
3. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
The Blues star has five goals to lead all scorers. Granted, they’ve come in two wins, while he’s been comparatively silent in two losses to the Minnesota Wild, but he has six points overall. Kevin Shattenkirk, with seven assists, is the second choice for Blues.
4. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Price had a rough start to their series against Ottawa but has been solid ever since, including back-to-back one-goal games. He has a .946 save percentage and a 1.67 GAA.
5. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
Six points for the Caps center, including the overtime game-winner in Game 4. Alex Ovechkin gets the press, but Backstrom might be the backbone of the team.
6. Jonas Hiller, Calgary Flames
The goalie has three wins, a .938 save percentage and a 1.79 GAA. And he’s one win against the Vancouver Canucks away from getting his old team, the Anaheim Ducks, in the semifinals.
7. John Tavares, New York Islanders
Three points in four games and a huge OT game-winner. One gets the feeling that if the Islanders top the Capitals, it’ll be because Tavares has added to his Conn Smythe case.
8. Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings
The goaltending consistency equivalent of a yo-yo, Mrazek was brilliant in Game 1, terrible in Game 2, and brilliant in Game 3. The Red Wings are up 2-1 on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
9. Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers
Skating over 25 minutes per game, he has a goal and two assists including a game-winner, and is helping to shut down Sidney Crosby.
10. Jason Pominville, Minnesota Wild
With Devan Dubnyk a little too inconsistent at the moment for MVP, we’ll go with Pominville’s four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in four games. He leads the Wild with 16 shots as well.
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