Wednesday, May 21, 2008

2008 Playoffs: Handicapping The Conn Smythe Contenders

As we get ready for the Stanley Cup Finals to get underway on Saturday night, I thought this would be the perfect time to look at who are the front runners for the Conn Smythe Trophy on both teams. Both the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins have been led by their biggest stars in the post-season, but there have also been some unsung heroes on both teams that I feel should get some recognition for their tremendous play thus far.

I am going to list my top four Conn Smythe candidates for each team below. Once the Finals begin I will include a Conn Smythe Top 5 when I recap each game. This will be a dynamic list that will obviously reflect the ebb and flow of the series as it plays out.

Detroit Red Wings
  1. Chris Osgood
  2. Henrik Zetterberg
  3. Pavel Datsyuk
  4. Johan Franzen
Notes: I give Osgood top billing here because he really turned things around for the Wings in their first round series against Nashville. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are pretty much a coin flip at this point. The bottom line is that the Wings would be lost without them both. Franzen would be much higher on the list if it were not for his injury. It will be interesting to see if the Wings get him back for the Finals or not.

Pittsburgh Penguins
  1. Sidney Crosby
  2. Marc-Andre Fleury
  3. Evgeni Malkin
  4. Sergei Gonchar
Notes: It was a tough call for me here between Sid and MAF. I still don't think MAF has gotten his fair share of the credit for the Penguins' performance thus far. People seem all to eager to declare him the weak link in the Penguin chain, but not give him his due as he continues to outperform every other netminder in the NHL. Geno could be leading the pack here if he hadn't gone quiet in the middle of the Eastern Conference Finals. Gonchar has been unreal all post-season and does not get near the amount of credit that he deserves. He has been an anchor for the Penguins at both ends of the rink.

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