On our daily Conn Smythe Watch, Jonathan Toews has been consistently ahead of Corey Crawford for the Chicago Blackhawks' MVP in the playoffs. And every day, there are multitudes of people who think this is a travesty.
Truth be told, the Blackhawks have so many MVP candidates it’s like Oprah’s handing them out. (“YOU get a Conn and YOU get a Conn...”) Marian Hossa’s been arguably the best two-way winger in the playoffs and has 13 points in 13 games. Patrick Kane has six goals, two of them in overtime. Duncan Keith has nine points and is skating 27:35 per game. Brent Seabrook has 11 points in 10 games and ripped the heart out of the St. Louis Blues with his hit on David Backes.
(Should that be a factor in MVP voting? Nefarious play? We think so.)
But the real debate is Toews vs. Crawford, and much like “pizza or sex?” there’s no real incorrect answer; you know, depending on where the pizza’s from ...
The Case For Crawford
He leads the NHL with a 1.90 goals-against average while ranking second with a .933 save percentage in the playoffs, and has been essential to the Blackhawks’ 7-0 record on home ice: 1.25 goals-against average and .957 save percentage. His .930 even strength save percentage ranks fourth.
He seems to be getting better as the playoffs go on, with three straight games in which he’s given up just one goal. Overall, he’s given up one or fewer in six of his 13 games.
The Case For Toews
He has 11 points in 13 games, which is second to Hossa on the team while his six goals lead the Blackhawks. Four of them are game-winning goals, including one in overtime.
If you want to make the case that as Crawford goes, so go the Blackhawks, please note that the Hawks are 6-0 in games in which Toews has a goal and 3-4 in games in which he doesn’t.
Defensively, he’s been Toews: 58.2 percent on 323 faceoffs, north of Selke finalists Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar. That Blackhawks’ home ice advantage? Toews has won 61.4 percent of the 158 home draws he’s taken. He’s also contributing (2:00 TOI SH per game) to a penalty kill unit that leads the NHL in penalty-kill efficiency during the postseason (44-for-48, 91.7%) and has given up just one goal on home ice.
If the Blackhawks are fortunate enough to win another Cup – and let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, people, because the Kings are damn good and the Eastern Conference has Henrik Lundqvist – Crawford may very well be the MVP if he has the numbers.
Boomer Gordon on XM NHL Network Radio believed that the voters might put Crawford over because they didn’t last season; but honestly, when hasn’t the media taken a chance to laud Captain Serious if he’s right there with him as a candidate?