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NHL Conn Smythe Trophy Favorites
Who will win NHL MVP of the playoffs
By Bob Duff
In the Stanley Cup playoffs, playing the Conn game is always an entertaining side wager beyond which team will ultimately capture the oldest trophy in North American team sports. While the Stanley Cup has been up for grabs since 1893, by comparison the Conn Smythe Trophy for the playoff MVP is a relatively new award, It's only been presented since 1965.
Let's look at some of this spring's contenders and the odds being given on them by Bovada.lv:
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (+500)
When you play the Penguins in the playoffs, you pick your poison. Do you check Sidney Crosby and allow Malkin free reign, or do you try to stifle Malkin and permit Sid The Kid to have his way?
Generally, teams go with Plan A and that allows Malkin to light things up. And he's doing so, leading the playoffs through two rounds with 5-13-18 totals. Malkin was the Conn Smythe winner in 2009 and if the Penguins repeat as Cup champs, he could be getting his second playoff MVP bauble.
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks (+500)
Third in playoff scoring and second in goals, Getzlaf has proven to be the horse that neither the Calgary Flames or Edmonton Oilers could corral.
Getzlaf won a Cup with the Ducks as a rookie in 2007. This time as their captain, if he leads them back to the promised land the Conn Smythe could be his.
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators (+550)
The Conn Smythe Trophy voters have always carried on a torrid love affair with goalies, presenting the trophy to netminders on 16 occasions.
Rinne is certainly worthy of consideration. He was absolutely spectacular as the Predators swept Chicago and kept it going in the second round against St. Louis. He led the postseason in goals-against average (1.37) and save percentage (.951) through the first two rounds.
In With A Chance
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (+750)
It's surprising to see such long odds on last spring's Conn Smythe winner but with Crosby's concussion in the second around against Washington, there is concern over how well he will play going forward.
Dealing with the tough checking of Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, Crosby still posed 2-5-7 numbers in six games. You can never count him out of this equation.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators (+650)
Defensemen are the opposite of goalies when it comes to the Conn Smythe Trophy. They just don't get it. In the past 13 playoffs, Chicago's Duncan Keith (2015) and Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer (2007) were the only defenders recognized as playoff MVP.
Karlsson would certainly be worthy of consideration. He leads the Senators and all rearguards in scoring through two rounds and it's easy to make the case he's been the most valuable player to his team so far. But the long odds of the Sens getting past Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference final probably will render this debate moot.
Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins (+2000)
Guentzel leads rookies in the Stanley Cup playoffs in goals (nine) and in just about every category except the one where he's overwhelmed by his first playoff experience.
Two things work against his Conn Smythe chances - the Pens are loaded with talented players, and the four rookies to win the Smythe were all goalies - Ken Dryden (1971), Patrick Roy (1986), Ron Hextall (1987) and Cam Ward (2006).
Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks (+2200)
Supposedly deployed in a checking role, Silfverberg evidently believes that the best defense is a good offense. He scored his eighth goal of the playoffs in Anaheim's Western Conference final opener against Nashville.
Hindering Silfverberg's Conn Smythe opportunity is that if the Ducks do win the Cup, there figures to be a lot of sentimental Conn Smythe Trophy love for Getzlaf, who is nearing the end of his run as a dominant NHLer. That, and none of the voters will have any idea how to spell his name.
Pick: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (+500)
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