NHL Playoffs 2012: MVPs from Each First-Round Series

Isaac SmithAnalyst IApril 27, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: MVPs from Each First-Round Series

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    The 2012 NHL Playoffs have replaced action movies in recent nights.

    Overtime series-clinching goals have become common place in the first round, with series-clinching goals scored by the Los Angeles Kings, the Washington Capitals and now the New Jersey Devils.

    Last night, a double-overtime Game 7 game-winning goal by Adam Henrique led the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 road win, advancing them to a second-round date with the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Henrique scored his second goal of the game on the overtime winner, proving that he can come through in the clutch when needed. But he didn't make my MVP list for the eight first-round series matchups.

    Here are my MVPs from every first round series.

1. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

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    How do you beat a Presidents' Trophy winning team?

    You kill their will to win.

    That is exactly what Jonathan Quick did in his first round series against the Vancouver Canucks.

    Quick yielded eight goals in five games against the Canucks, for a GAA of 1.59 and a save percentage of 95.3 percent.

    He shutout the Canucks to push the Kings' series lead to three games to none and put them in a position to win the series.

    Jonathan Quick faced 48 shots in Game 2 and stopped 46 of them. That was really the turning point in the series, when the Kings went up two games to none, stealing both games in Vancouver.

    Honorable mention to Dustin Brown.

2. Patrik Berglund/Andy McDonald, St. Louis Blues

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    Picking Patrik Berglund over Andy McDonald or vice versa would be like picking peanut butter over jelly (or the other way around).

    They are just better together.

    Berglund had three goals (two on the power play) and four assists in five games.

    McDonald had four goals (two on the power play) and four assists in five games. He also chipped in a game-winning goal in Game 4 that put the San Jose Sharks on the brink of elimination.

    McDonald suffered a concussion in the regular season, but had 22 points in 25 regular season games and has continued that trend into the playoffs.

    Berglund and McDonald may have 11 years separating them in age, but they seem to be on the same wavelength as far as putting the puck in the net goes.

    If these two continue their hot play against the Kings in the second round, it's going to be very hard to stop them from moving on.

3. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes

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    Mike Smith faced 241 shots in six games.

    He stopped all but 12 of them.

    With a 95.0 save percentage and a 1.81 GAA, Mike Smith led his team to a series victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

    However, Mike Smith didn't just lead his team to victory.

    He flat out picked them up, put them on his back and kept Phoenix in games that it really had no business being in.

    Game 6 was a perfect example.

    Smith faced 28 shots through two periods while stopping them all to let the Coyotes have a 1-0 advantage going into the third period.

    Phoenix had just eight shots to speak of at that point, and finished the series off in the third period on a five-minute-major power play.

4. Gabriel Bourque, Nashville Predators

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    When a rookie gets a goal in a playoff game, it's a big deal.

    When a rookie gets three goals in a playoff series, (two of them in the same game) it's a huge deal.

    Gabriel Bourque had three goals and an assist in a five game series win over the Detroit Red Wings, and finished tied for second in points on the Predators.

    A lot of people talked about Pekka Rinne stoning Detroit, and rightfully so. But he would not have had the success he had without playing with a lead. Rinne benefited from strong team defense after early first-period goals in three of his five games, and leads in all but Game 2.

    With that in mind, Gabriel Bourque is my MVP for this series.

5. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

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    Henrik Lundqvist finally quieted the critics. Well, for the moment at least.

    Lundqvist has never made it past the second round of the playoffs, which is where the Rangers will find themselves when they take on the Washington Capitals in the second round on Saturday afternoon.

    Lundqvist helped the Rangers defeat the upstart Ottawa Senators in seven games with an excellent overall series performance.

    The Rangers benefited greatly from Lundqvist's numbers: a 1.70 GAA, a 94.5 save percentage, but most importantly, four wins in seven games.

    Lundqvist's next big task?

    Shut down the Washington Capitals, a team that has had his number in recent playoff seasons, one that has knocked the Rangers out the last two times they were in the playoffs.

6. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

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    If Braden Holtby isn't your series MVP for the Boston-Washington series, then you probably weren't watching.

    Holtby let in 15 goals over seven games, which admittedly doesn't sound overly impressive.

    But Holtby, a rookie, came up huge in a seven-game series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

    Holtby faced the most shots out of any goaltender at 248 shots faced, and made 233 saves. He had a 2.00 GAA and a 94.0 save percentage.

    Holtby had four games where his save percentage was around or above 97 percent. Pretty good for a rookie goaltender with only 21 regular season games' worth of experience.

7. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils

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    So this list is rather stacked with goalies in case you haven't noticed.

    Some fans might argue that a New Jersey forward should win this spot. After all, Brodeur had to wait for double-overtime in Game 7 to advance.

    But Brodeur did his part, with a 2.06 GAA, a 92.2 save percentage, a shutout and two assists.

    Yeah, I said assists; two of them in seven games. That ties him for 11th on the team, with more points than some of his non-goalie teammates.

    He knows that his time in the NHL is drawing to a close so he is making the most of it right now, just willing this team to win games. It's a great relief, mentally, when your team knows that they have a world-class future Hall of Fame goalie in Martin Brodeur between the pipes.

    Let's see how long Brodeur can keep his team in it against the offensive-based Flyers.

8. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

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    The Broad Street Bullies are back in full force in Philadelphia.

    But this time, they're using their brains and not their brawn to win games. That's right, the Flyers were not the ones instigating fights against their first round opponents, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    This man, Claude Giroux, led all scorers in the first round of the playoffs with 14 points in six games. Don't be deceived because he had six points in one game.

    Giroux is a highly skilled offensive player. and his brain took over, as he refused to take part in the shenanigans that the Penguins' players started once they started losing three games to none in the series.

    Giroux will have to have another solid effort against the Devils if the Flyers hope to advance once more.

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