Boston Bruins: Top 5 Conn Smythe Candidates in the NHL Playoffs
The Boston Bruins are just two wins away from being Stanley Cup Champions.
With that being said, it’s time to look at their best performers during the 2011 playoffs and choose the most valuable member of the team.
There has been no shortage of outstanding performers for the boys from Bean Town, throughout these playoffs. However, one has stood out the most and is the favorite to win the Conn Smythe trophy, if the Bruins can win the cup. Nevertheless, let’s rank the top five candidates and look at why they’ve been the best players on the team.
5. Nathan Horton
This Bruin has scored many of the biggest goals in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs for his team.
He scored the overtime winner in Game 5 of the Bruins first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens. Then he notched the overtime and series-winning goal in Game 7 of that same series. He later topped that with the series-winning goal in the third period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the only goal of the game in a 1-0 Bruins victory.
Those are just a few of Nathan Horton’s nine goals and 17 points in the playoffs this year. Unfortunately, Horton won’t be returning to the lineup for the Bruins' biggest games, thanks to a severe concussion that he suffered in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Nevertheless, he was a huge performer for the Bruins while he was in the lineup.
4. Patrice Bergeron
The Team Canada Olympian has been one of the Bruins' best offensive and defensive players throughout the 2011 playoffs.
Patrice Bergeron has 18 points and has been a key for the Bruins all regular season and in the playoffs. He is strong in the face-off circle and almost always gets the assignment of playing against the opposition's best forwards.
Putting up points is never easy when you have these type of assignments, but at one point earlier in the playoffs, he led the league in scoring. He might not be at the top of that leader board anymore, but he remains in the top 10 during the Stanley Cup Finals.
3. Brad Marchand
The most annoying player left in the 2011 NHL Playoffs is also getting it done at both ends of the ice.
Brad Marchand has scored some great goals in these playoffs, especially in the Stanley Cup Finals. His shining moment was definitely his short-handed goal in Game 3 of the finals, when he passed the puck to himself en route to a wonderful goal.
Marchand has 15 points for the Bruins in the playoffs, but he has also been the ultimate pain in the side of his opponents. His contributions in the offensive, defensive and physical departments of the game are why he has been one of the most valuable members of the Bruins during their playoff run.
For the record, a rookie skater has never won the Conn Smythe trophy before. Brad Marchand may not be the No. 1 candidate to win the trophy for the Bruins, if they do manage to win the Stanley Cup. However, just the fact that he’s in the conversation is remarkable for a rookie grinder who isn’t even in the conversation for the Rookie of the Year award.
2. David Krejci
He’s the leading goal scorer and point producer of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs and that’s all you really need to say.
On a team that prides itself on having a balanced scoring attack, David Krejci has been the scorer who has shined the most during these playoffs. He is the Bruins' first line center and their offensive leader. He has scored big goals, set up big goals and been the most consistent Bruin, when it comes to the stats sheet.
But while David Krejci has been the best Bruins forward, defence wins championships, and the most important defender on the Boston Bruins is the one between the pipes.
1. Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas is the front runner to win the Vezina trophy for the NHL’s best goalie in the regular season, and he’s proving how good he is in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs as well.
He leads the league in both goals against average and save percentage in the playoffs and has stood on his head during the last two games for the Boston Bruins.
Why else would he be named the first star of a game where his teammates put up eight goals? It’s because he has been the most valuable player for his team in just about every one of their victories in these playoffs.
Call him unorthodox or strange, but Thomas stops the puck and has been doing so at a Conn Smythe level during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.