As is widespread within the aftermath of most post-season eliminations, we’re left questioning what may have been if issues had been barely completely different. On this occasion, that what-ifs pertain to the San Jose Sharks, and there are lots of them
The largest, little doubt, issues the well being of Erik Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl, all three of whom had been unable to take part in Recreation 6 of the Western Convention closing. We’ll by no means know, after all, however the ripple impact of the Sharks being unable to ice a wholesome roster within the closing sport of the sequence and shutting out Recreation 5 with a banged-up lineup is that we’re left questioning what may or would have been within the closing for Logan Couture, who was on an absolute tear by way of a lot of the post-season.
By way of 20 playoff video games, Couture was probably the most deadly Shark. His 14 objectives had been probably the most of any participant within the post-season, his 20 factors the highest mark amongst all scorers. But, it wasn’t sufficient. When the Western Convention closing acquired right down to its most pivotal video games – the fourth, fifth and sixth of the sequence – Couture was held off the scoresheet by the St. Louis Blues, and the Sharks, battered and bruised, had been despatched packing in six video games. Thus, one of many early post-season favorites to seize the Conn Smythe Trophy has been eradicated.
So, who does that go away? With the ultimate on the horizon and the Blues and Boston Bruins making ready to start their tete-a-tete for the Stanley Cup come Monday, listed here are the top-five candidates for playoff MVP:
5. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis BluesThere’s often a defender within the combine for the Conn Smythe, and coming into the ultimate, Pietrangelo is sort of inarguably the frontrunner among the many blueliners.
Unsurprisingly, it’s offense that places Pietrangelo atop the listing of rearguards. With two objectives, Pietrangelo is tied for second amongst final-bound defenders, one behind Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. The Blues high defender is, nevertheless, the top-scoring defenseman amongst these left standing. His 13 factors are yet another than Bruins blueliner Torey Krug’s 12 factors and two away from teammate Colton Parayko. Pietrangelo’s on-ice objectives for proportion must also work in his favor. At 5-on-5, the place he has skated the third-most minutes of any defenseman coming into the ultimate, he has a 60.6 objectives for proportion to go together with optimistic Corsi, shot and scoring probability percentages. He’s been dependable whereas taking part in towards high competitors, and the offense provides him an added edge.
four. Patrice Bergeron, Boston BruinsFrom a pure offensive perspective, Bergeron’s case is considerably troublesome to make. Under no circumstances has he been poor within the playoffs, however his eight objectives and 13 factors are ninth amongst gamers coming into the ultimate and he’s solely narrowly outscoring Krug and Charlie Coyle. So, positive, Bergeron has been good, however he’s not placing up clear-cut Conn Smythe numbers within the base statistical classes.
One actually will get a really feel for Bergeron’s influence this post-season, although, if you dig into his underlying numbers, and the hope is Conn Smythe voters at the least contemplate his influence in that regard. Coming into the ultimate, Bergeron has glorious 5-on-5 photographs, Corsi, scoring possibilities and high-danger possibilities percentages. However let’s ignore these for the sake of brevity and as a substitute level out two numbers: he has a 69.2 objectives for proportion and a 57.four anticipated objectives for proportion at five-a-side. He has tilted the ice within the Bruins’ favor each time he touches the ice.
three. Brad Marchand, Boston BruinsLove him or hate him, and we will safely counsel that there are much more hockey followers exterior of Boston who fall into the latter class, Marchand has earned himself a spot as one of many high contenders for the Conn Smythe. Regardless of toeing the road together with his antics sometimes, Marchand continues to show his worth as an offensive contributor and has adopted up his career-high 100-point common season with seven objectives and 18 factors in 17 playoffs video games by way of three rounds.
Marchand has additionally been a workhorse for Boston. He’s skating almost two minutes per sport on the Bruins’ penalty kill, which is clipping alongside at 86.three %. He’s seeing three:24 per sport with the person benefit for Boston, which leads all forwards on what has been the playoff’s greatest energy play workforce. And Marchand’s general common ice time, 20:36, is sort of 90 seconds away from the 19:10 Bergeron is skating per outing. The Bruins are leaning exhausting on Marchand. And he’s delivering, whether or not you prefer it or not.
2. Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis BluesBruins followers is likely to be upset with the rating right here – Marchand has two extra factors than Schwartz regardless of taking part in two fewer video games – however the 2017-18 Conn Smythe supplies the reasoning for putting the Blues’ high scorer forward of the Bruins’ main man. Final post-season, Alex Ovechkin captured playoff MVP honors regardless of scoring 5 fewer factors than Evgeny Kuznetsov. The place Ovechkin had the sting, although, was within the objective division. He scored 15 to Kuznetsov’s dozen. That is to say that Schwartz, who has 12 objectives, together with two hat tips and a pair of game-winners, leapfrogs Marchand into second spot within the Conn Smythe hierarchy based mostly on goal-scoring and goal-scoring alone.
Schwartz can actually put a stamp on his case if he continues to search out twine within the closing, and the notion of his scoring feats will get an added increase if he surpasses Brett Hull’s St. Louis franchise-best 13 playoff objectives, which was set almost 30 years in the past.
1. Tuukka Rask, Boston BruinsRight now, it’s Rask’s Conn Smythe to lose. By way of 17 video games this post-season, Rask has been downright dominant. The Bruins keeper has a outstanding .942 save proportion, 1.84 goals-against common and two shutouts – the primary in Recreation 6 of Spherical 2, the second in Recreation four of Spherical three, each of which had been series-deciding video games – throughout greater than 1,000 minutes of play.
To place that into context, there have been 60 goaltenders who performed at the least 1,000 minutes through the common season, and Ben Bishop’s .934 SP was one of the best amongst all of these netminders. Traditionally, too, Rask’s numbers are eye-popping. Proper now, his numbers are higher than Tim Thomas’ had been throughout his Conn Smythe- and Stanley Cup-winning marketing campaign with the Bruins in 2010-11 and solely three goaltenders in NHL historical past have posted a greater mark throughout 1,000 playoff minutes: Mike Smith with the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2011-12, Jean-Sebastien Giguere with the Anaheim Geese in 2002-03 and Jonathan Fast with the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12.
If Rask retains his numbers in the identical vary all through the ultimate, there’s a good probability he earns the Conn Smythe regardless of the end result. That mentioned, it can imply an terrible lot extra to Rask if he can pair the MVP with a Stanley Cup.
Honorable Mentions: David Pastrnak (BOS); David Krejci (BOS); Vladimir Tarasenko (STL); Ryan O’Reilly (STL)
(All superior statistics through NaturalStatTrick)
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Tags: awards, boston bruins, lists, playoffs, st. louis bluesConnect: In regards to the AuthorJared ClintonJared Clinton is a author and net editor with The Hockey Information. He is been with the workforce since 2014. He was born, raised and resides in Winnipeg, the place he will be discovered lacking the web on outside rinks throughout city.