With the Pittsburgh Penguins one win away from lifting the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in franchise history, much of the conversation around the Final has swayed towards Conn Smythe Trophy debate.
The current favourites to walk away as the player judged to be most valuable to his team during the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs include Penugins’ Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, and Matt Murray.
Coach’s Corner co-host Don Cherry joined Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown and John Shannon on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday night and was asked who would be his pick to lift the Conn Smythe Trophy. Cherry singled out Crosby as his favourite for the hardware this spring.
“My guy’s Crosby. He’s on a mission, as far as I’m concerned. I have never seen him play better than he’s playing right now. He’s taking abuse, he’s hitting, he’s blocking shots…I don’t know if he’s going to win it or not, I know the goaltender [Murray] and all that, but I would pick Crosby there’s no question in my mind,” Cherry said.
Crosby has scored six goals and totalled 17 points in 22 games this post-season. The Penguins’ leading scorer through 22 playoff games is Kessel, who ranks fourth among all post-season skaters with 10 goals and 21 points.
Asked if Kessel is a different player with the Penguins than he was with his former clubs, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, Cherry said not much has changed for the 28-year-old sniper.
“No way, I always liked him in Toronto…It’s just that in Toronto he played more. I think he’s just the same player,” Cherry said of Kessel.
The Sharks trail the Penguins 3-1 with the series shifting back to Pittsburgh for Game 5. Cherry was asked to put his coaching hat on and make a call on the Sharks splitting up stars Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton in an effort to get back in the series.
“Absolutely. I would do something,” said Cherry. “This is the last gasp. They’re doing nothing…I know Joe [Thornton] got two assists. Pavelski was the guy, he was the leader, he’s the captain. And Logan Couture, you know what I think of him…he’s done nothing. I would definitely break them up.”
Game 5 is set for 8 p.m. ET Thursday night.