Conn Artists: The Top Five Conn Smythe Contenders at the Moment
If you are a casual fan of hockey, then you might have heard of some of these names, as they would be mentioned at one time or another by the commentators covering some of the teams that they play on.
However, if you are a diehard, then every one of these names means something to you, and it probably wouldn't be hard to determine what is the one thing that they all have in common: a chance to be the Playoff MVP of these Stanley Cup Playoffs.
We are almost halfway through the postseason, so any of these names could easily change in the next month or so. However, the way things are going right now, there's a good chance that the Conn Smythe winner will be one of these five gentlemen.
So, in no particular order, let's get to it...
1. Jaroslav Halak
Is there anything that this man can't do at the moment?
After a thrilling first round that saw his underdog Montreal Canadiens knock off the President Trophy winning Washington Capitals in seven games, the magic didn't end there.
The young Slovak was in net for all seven games of the second round against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and he took care of them as well.
Now, the Habs will face either the Boston Bruins or Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The way Halak has been rolling, would it really be a surprise if he swept either team? Didn't think so.
2. Jonathan Toews
The captain of the young Blackhawks started this postseason slowly, with only one point in his first three games. However, since Game Four against Nashville in the first round, Toews has been unstoppable.
He has put up points in nine consecutive games, and we are not talking garbage ones either. He had a massive five-point night against the Canucks in Game Four, including a hat-trick, which basically sealed Vancouver's fate.
Currently, he is leading all scorers in the playoffs with 20 points. If Chicago can advance to the Finals, he is the man to be considered for Playoff MVP.
3. Mike Cammalleri
When Cammalleri suited up with the Calgary Flames last season, it was his first foray into the postseason, and he saw his playoff run end quite early, when Chicago finished off Calgary in six games.
A lot of the media in the city was all over Cammy for not producing in the playoffs, when he had only three points in six games. Well, maybe it was just first-time jitters, because he is definitely producing now.
The 27-year-old has been on fire in these playoffs, and currently leads all scorers with 12 goals. Most of them have been clutch, as his wicked one-timer has resulted in replays being shown over and over while watching the highlights.
It's still unknown at this point who the Habs will be facing in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the Bruins or Flyers better be ready to face the goal-scoring machine known as Michael Cammalleri.
4. Joe Pavelski
When you think of the San Jose Sharks being in the Western Conference Finals, you would automatically assume that it was probably due to the stellar play of Evgeni Nabokov in net, or the big trio of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley. Maybe even the slick puck-moving of Dan Boyle.
"The Other Joe," known as Joe Pavelski, has been the MVP for the Sharks thus far. He has been absolutely dominant for long stretches in these playoffs. In fact, there was one stretch where he scored in five consecutive games, totaling eight goals along the way.
When you look at the top 10 playoff scorers, you don't see names like Thornton, Heatley and Marleau there. Nope, the name that you see is Pavelski, and if the Sharks can make it to their first ever Stanley Cup Final, it will be this 25-year-old American that will lead the way.
5. Mike Richards
As of this writing, there was one series that had not been decided yet from the second round. That would be the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, who are deadlocked at three games each after a great comeback by the Flyers to tie the series after being down 3-0.
One of the main reasons that Philly is still alive: Mike Richards. The young captain of the club has been absolutely electric in these playoffs, and has taken on the responsibility to be the guy offensively to get his team back in the thick of things.
It's all the more impressive, considering that the team does not have its top two goaltenders (Ray Emery and Brian Boucher), but more importantly, Jeff Carter is out for the season. Simon Gagne also missed a handful of games, leaving it up to Richards to be the focal point of the offense, with the Bruins bearing down on him.
He already has 15 points in 11 games, and if the Flyers can complete the comeback by doing the impossible, Richards will definitely be up for consideration when it comes to talks regarding the Conn Smythe.