Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: Jonathan Quick and Top Conn Smythe Trophy Candidates
If the Los Angeles Kings can win four more games this postseason, then goalie Jonathan Quick will become the 41st player to be awarded the NHL's prestigious Conn Smythe Trophy that's given to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Quick has been exceptional and without a doubt LA's best player throughout the past three series, saving 94.6 percent of the shots he's faced in these playoffs and allowing less than 1.6 goals per game.
But Quick is not alone in the Conn Smythe conversation. Here are some other notable players up for the award in 2012:
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
L.A. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has faced 406 shots through the Stanley Cup playoffs' first three series and has stopped 384. To put it bluntly, Quick has been lightning-quick for the Kings through 14 playoff appearances and will be the man responsible for leading them to a Stanley Cup championship this summer if they win it all.
Just like Boston's Tim Thomas in 2011, Quick has single-handedly elevated the Kings and given them a chance to compete for the Cup. Although his boringly consistent play in net is beginning to slide under the radar, something tells me we haven't heard the last from LA's puck stopper.
Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk has 18 points in 17 playoff games this postseason. Kovalchuk has been getting teammates involved as well as finding the back of the net himself. Never was the Russian talent more worthy of recognition than after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Kovalchuk's five points in the series' last three games (all Devils wins) lifted New Jersey out of a 2-1 deficit and put them four wins away from a title.
Whether the Devils win it all or Kovalchuk is honored with the Conn Smythe at season's end, he has changed many fans' opinions about him. This has been a legacy-altering postseason for Kovalchuk without question.
Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings
Kings captain Dustin Brown has been remarkably consistent for L.A. throughout the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, scoring at least five points in each of the Kings' three postseason series. Brown had two goals in the Game 4 closeout win over the St. Louis Blues in the second round and boasts a solid plus-13 in these playoffs.
Brown's leadership as a captain and his willingness to do what it takes to win has been front and center during LA's march to the Stanley Cup finals. If Quick struggles to see pucks against New Jersey in the playoffs' final series, then Brown will be the hands-down favorite to run away with the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Follow Patrick Clarke on Twitter for more on the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.
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