One week brought plenty of change in the Conn Smythe Power Rankings.
In last week’s edition, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury appeared in the top 10. Now they’re both the subject of trade rumours after the Pittsburgh Penguins blew a 3-1 series lead and were eliminated from the post-season.
Despite his impressive puck-possession numbers, Sidney Crosby never appeared on this list throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He just didn’t produce enough on the score sheet, while Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar (who ranked No. 1 last week) maintained a spot in the top 10.
With Round 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs just around the corner, here’s our list of the top 10 Conn Smythe candidates:
1) Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: Price doesn’t have the best save percentage or goals-against average in the playoffs, but he has been the most valuable netminder. The Canadiens would not have pulled off the upset over the Bruins without Price’s heroics. After an Olympic goal medal, no one is questioning his play in clutch situations anymore.
2) Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: The blame game has been going around Pittsburgh, but the biggest reason the Penguins collapsed was the play of Henrik Lundqvist. The Swede only allowed three goals in New York’s three straight wins to close out the series, registering a save percentage of .971 during that stretch. When Lundqvist is in top form, the Rangers are an incredibly difficult team to beat.
3) Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks: Price, Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick are routinely considered the best goalies in hockey, but it’s time to add Corey Crawford to that group. Crawford leads all goalies in goals-against average (1.97) and ranks in the top three in save percentage (.931). Crawford was Chicago’s most critical player in a surprisingly tough series against a scrappy Minnesota Wild squad.
4) Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings: Obviously this spot is predicated on Los Angeles winning the series against Anaheim, but there’s no doubt how valuable Kopitar has been to the Kings. The Slovenian leads all playoff scorers with 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) and has registered a point in all but one of his 13 post-season games this year. More impressively, only four of his 17 points have come on the power play.
5) Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks: Getzlaf will shoot up the rankings if Anaheim pulls off a win in Game 7. The Ducks’ top centre is tied for second in playoff scoring wth 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 11 games while averaging more than 21 minutes per game.
6) Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks: It’s always tough to pick between Kane and Toews, considering how valuable Toews is in all three zones of the ice. Toews’ offensive production dipped in the second round, but he still gets the nod over Kane. The Blachawks had just two goals and one assist in six games against Minnesota, boosting his total to 10 points throughout the playoffs.
7) Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: Kane didn’t light up the score sheet (three goals, one assist) in Round 2, but his timely goals have continued to propel the Blackhawks. During this year’s playoffs, Kane has added three game-winners and two overtime goals, including the clinching goal of the Blackhawks-Wild series.
8) P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens: Pierre McGuire would certainly agree with this pick. Subban drops a bit on this list after registering only one point in his last four games, but he still ranks first among defencemen in playoff scoring with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 11 games while averaging more than 26 minutes per game. His biggest contribution has come on the power play, where he’s added seven of his 12 post-season points.
9) Marian Gaborik, Los Angeles Kings: Gaborik still leads the league with eight goals in the playoffs and has added a point in all but one of the six games against the Ducks. His play has improved as the post-season has gone on, with eight of his 13 points coming in Round 2.
10) John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks: Gibson hasn’t played enough to earn a higher position on this list, but his impact cannot be understated. In three post-season games, the Ducks goalie has only allowed five goals while posting a save percentage of .946. Not too shabby for a 20-year-old.
Honourable mention: Martin St. Louis