As round 3 is well underway, let’s examine some of the Conn Smythe Candidates, plus some other unconventional award recipients.
Conn Smythe Trophy:
Key stats: 13 goals, 24 points
Currently one point behind NHL leader Malkin, Sid the Kid has been a dominant force in the 2009 postseason. His clutch performance in Game 7 against the Caps has elevated the legacy of the young phenom.
Key stats: 10-5 record, .899 save percentage, 2.76 goals against average
Fleury’s stats aren’t phenomenal, but in the most important category (wins), he is tops. Although he doesn’t have any postseason shutouts yet this spring, his OT record of 3-1 speaks volumes of his clutch performance thus far.
Key stats: 15 assists, 25 points
Hardly a dark horse for the playoff MVP, Malkin is neck and neck with Sid for the playoff point lead. His indifferent play early on doesn’t help, but with inspired play since the end of Round 2, he could be in line to receive this prestigious award.
Key stats: 8-8 record, .920 save percentage, 2.5 goals against average
If the Canes can somehow make it to the Cup, it will be because of Ward’s heroics. His stingy GAA is the only reason people in NASCAR country are all-in this postseason.
Key stats: 10-3 record, .925 save percentage, 2.04 goals against average
Osgood has simply gotten the job done for the Wings this spring. While not playing spectacularly, Osgood has held the fort admirably and his past playoff experience allows him to remain calm after letting in a few softies.
Key stats: 9 goals, 18 points
Franzen has been the most dangerous Red Wing in the Playoffs; that’s saying a lot considering the offensive firepower on this squad. His ability to cause havoc in front of the opponent’s goalie has been responsible for many goals that he should have been awarded a tertiary assist.
Dark horse: Dan Cleary
If Cleary pops in a few more game winners (2 GWG’s thus far), we may have the new Martin Gelinas on our hands.
Key stats: 9 assists, 14 points
Havlat has been consistent since the first game for the Blackhawks, but it’s looking more unlikely that he and his teammates will take this series against the boys from Motown.
Once we’re on the subject of awards, here are some more that you won’t see awarded at the NHL Awards in Vegas:
Best Playoff Announcer: Jim Hughson (except when he says his overused line of “the fans call a penalty, but the refs don’t”).
Worst Playoff Announcer: Gord Miller (except when he’s on mute).
Best Playoff Beard: Eric Cole’s caveman impersonation wins, runner-up goes to Dan Cleary.
Worst Playoff Beard (aka the 2008 Sidney Crosby Award): Jonathan Toews’ sideburns are growing in quite nicely, just the rest needs some work. Alex Ovechkin’s beard patches rank second, with P.J. Stock coming in third.
Best Playoff Crowd: Washington; Caps fans dressed in red went bonkers the first two rounds.
Worst Playoff Crowd: Chicago; it may be because of the hype surrounding the electricity at the old Chicago Stadium, but crowd noise hasn’t been that crazy so far.
Most Exciting Game: Too many to name, but one that stands out is Game 6 between Chicago and Vancouver, with the Blackhawks’ third period outburst.
Least Exciting Game: Regrettably, Game 7 between the Pens and Caps.
Best Playoff Commercial: The new Ponch-Out commercial for the Nintendo Wii.
Worst Playoff Commercial: The NHL on Versus commercial that still airs featuring three quarters of teams that have already been eliminated.
Most Overplayed Commercial: Enterprise Rent-A-Car. For my trip? Sounds expensive!
Unsung Hero: That guy taking Kung Fu lessons in the Kia Forte commercial.
Worst Individual Performance: Pick any Shark, I’ll go with Thornton. The only one who showed up for this series was S.J. Sharkie.
Most Surprising Performance: Simeon Varlamov and Jonas Hiller (tie), second place goes to Craig Conroy’s work on TSN.
Best Swan Song Performance: Maggie the Monkey.
Playoff Villain: Jim Balsillie (for those in Phoenix).
Playoff Hero: Jim Balsillie (for those in Hamilton).
Playoff Presence Most Missed: Jim Van Horne (or at least his mustache).