Vancouver Canucks: Top 5 Conn Smythe Candidates in the 2011 NHL Playoffs

Adam Graham@@adam_grahamAnalyst IIJune 10, 2011

Vancouver Canucks: Top 5 Conn Smythe Candidates in the 2011 NHL Playoffs

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    The Vancouver Canucks are just two wins away from becoming Stanley Cup Champions and the anticipation level is rising in Van City.

    There has been no shortage of outstanding performers for the Canucks in these playoffs. They have had contributions from many sources throughout their run to the finals. But in the end their star players have, for the most part, acted like their star players.

    Choosing a potential Conn Smythe winner isn't easy when it comes to the Canucks in 2011. Every round a different player has stepped up and claimed his stake as one of the most valuable members of the team.

    Let’s take a look at the five most valuable Canucks so far in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Feel free to voice your opinion on what you agree or disagree with in terms of this list.


    Note: Be sure to check out my top five Conn Smythe candidates for the Boston Bruins by clicking here.

5. Roberto Luongo

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    There was a time during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs when some people considered Robert Luongo to be a front runner to win the Conn Smythe trophy. He bounced back from a couple of poor games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round to play wonderfully in the second and third rounds against the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks.

    His stellar play continued through the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, holding the Boston Bruins to just two goals on 66 shots.

    But the last two games have been anything but stellar for Luongo. He let in a whopping 12 goals in Games 3 and 4 of the finals, reminding fans of his two poor starts against Chicago in Games 4 and 5 back in the first round.

    It’s funny how quickly we forget Luongo’s other 17 playoff starts where he’s looked like one of the best goalies in the world in almost every game.

    The only thing stopping Bobby Lou from being at the top of this list of Canuck Conn Smythe candidates is consistency. But if you’re not consistent, you’re probably not going to win the Stanley Cup and you’re certainly not going be remembered as your teams’ most valuable player.

4. Daniel Sedin

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    The goal scoring Sedin twin has lit the lamp nine times so far in the 2011 post season. That’s good enough for a tie for the team lead in that category so Daniel has done his job, for the most part, in these playoffs.

    His 18 points is third in team scoring, just three points behind his brother Henrik, and he has the ability to be a difference maker at any given moment in a hockey game.

    Much like his brother, Daniel Sedin’s best round of the playoffs came in the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks where he put up six points in five games and was a plus-four.

    But Daniel needs to step up now and light the lamp more often in these finals or the Canucks hopes of lifting Lord Stanley’s mug are in serious jeopardy.

3. Ryan Kesler

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    Ryan Kesler’s 2011 playoff experience has been a roller coaster ride.

    In the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks, he didn’t score a single goal but played well defensively and was a thorn in the side of the Blackhawks top line. But people still wanted more out of a guy who scored 41 goals during the regular season.

    In the second round he woke offensively in a big way. He dominated the Nashville Predators and almost single-handedly won the series for the Canucks, racking up five goals and 11 points in the process.

    Since then Kesler has continued to play hard and be a strong physical force for the Canucks, but his offensive numbers have once again tailed off. There is a strong consensus that he may being playing injured in the Stanley Cup Finals, but we’ll never know until the playoffs are over.

    Regardless, Kesler’s 19 points so far in the 2011 playoffs is good enough for second on the Canucks and fourth in the NHL.

    Simply put, he’s a warrior.

2. Alex Burrows

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    Alex Burrows has never met a big moment he didn’t like. He seems to come up with a huge goal for the Canucks just about every time the occasion calls for it.

    In round one, he exorcised the Canucks demons against the Chicago Blackhawks by scoring an epic Game 7 overtime winner.

    Then in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals he scored another huge goal in overtime to put the Canucks up two games to none against the Boston Bruins.

    In total, Burrows has nine goals in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs and three of those goals have come in the three elimination games that Vancouver has won.

    Burrows’ 17 playoff points is impressive enough, but the timeliness of his goals are what puts him as one of the top contenders to win the Conn Smythe trophy if the Vancouver Canucks can win the Stanley Cup in 2011.

1. Henrik Sedin

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    He is the leading point getter for the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs and he leads the entire NHL in playoff assists by a large margin.

    Henrik Sedin has been the same quiet hero in these playoffs that he has been for the Vancouver Canucks throughout the last few seasons.

    But you can only fly under the radar so much when you rack up a ridiculous 12 points in just five games against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals.

    The 2010 NHL regular season MVP has been great for the Canucks throughout most of the 2011 playoffs. However, there have been times where he has tailed off offensively. He went four games without a point earlier in the playoffs and he has gone another four games without a point in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    If the Canucks want to win it all, they’ll need more from their captain, especially if he wants to win the Conn Smythe trophy.