NHL Playoffs: Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar on Path to Conn Smythe Consideration

Riley KuftaContributor IIIMay 17, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 15:  Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings skates toward teammate Anze Kopitar #11 after Kopitar assisted on a goal by teammate Jeff Carter #77 (not in photo) in the second period against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Two of the Western Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on May 15, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Usually the deeper we get into the playoffs, the clearer the Conn Smythe candidates become. That is not the case this year. 

Prior to the third round, the candidates were as follows: Henrik Lundqvist, Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, Mike Smith, Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown (determined based on who makes it to the finals).  

For most of those teams, nothing has changed. But for Los Angeles, it's no longer so cut and dry, as both Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar have emerged as potential candidates. 

 

Anze Kopitar

Anze Kopitar is the most dynamic and dangerous scorer on the Kings. So far, he's been slightly overshadowed by Dustin Brown, as Brown has led the team in scoring. 

Since the first round against the Canucks, however, Kopitar has been catching up. 

In the last five games, Anze has notched nine points, while going plus-six in the process. 

In that time, Brown has eight points; six of which have been on plays with Kopitar. While Brown's performance and will has been admirable thus far, the line which he plays on is dependent on Kopitar's skill. 

Without Kopitar, Brown wouldn't be a Conn Smythe candidate either.  

 

Drew Doughty

Drew Doughty was not a well-liked man when he made his contract demands public last summer. 

His measly 36 points and minus-two rating didn't help his case of being a $7 million worthy defender, either. 

Once the playoffs began, however, he upped his game—and continues to with each shift.

Doughty is tied for third in points among defenders despite having played considerably fewer games than those ahead of him. 

He also ranks third in plus/minus in the playoffs, falling behind just Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.  

While his performance thus far does not equate to that of Kopitar or Brown, he's picked up his performance recently, picking up six points in the past four games and contributing to game-winners in three of them.  

If Doughty continues on the pace that he's set in the past four games, he likely will enter the Conn Smythe talks by the time this rampant playoff run is complete.  

Despite a poor couple of seasons, Drew Doughty is finally looking like the defenseman who picked up 59 points in his sophomore season, and he couldn't have picked a better time to do it.