Yesterday, we asked you on Twitter who was your pick for Conn Smythe favorite so far. We had an option for each remaining team, but two players clearly stood out.
Both players have had outstanding playoff runs so far, so let’s break it down.
Logan Couture was your #1 pick, nearly receiving half of the 500+ votes, and it’s easy to see why. His last minute, game-tying tally in Game 3 now gives him 14 goals in 17 games, with no other player even at 10 yet. He’s also scored the first goal of a game three times, tied for the league lead. His scoring ability has been on full display, but the MVP consideration goes much deeper than simply his goal total.
Couture has made his impact felt in every facet of the game. He’s made some key defensive plays and turned them into quick-strike offense, like his shorthanded goal in Game 2 against the Blues:
His six assist lag behind his goal total, but it’s not due to a lack of trying. He’s near the top of the playoffs in slot passes per game and also lead all Sharks forwards in completed offensive zone passes, consistently looking for the next open man to keep San Jose’s cycle game going. His scoring touch will get the headlines, but his well-rounded play without a doubt makes him deserving to be the top skater considered for the Conn Smythe so far.
Now, I say top skater because Tuukka Rask has been playing out of his mind for the Bruins in these playoffs. He resisted the Maple Leafs’ high-powered offense in Round 1 and went save-for-save with a dialed-in Sergei Bobrovsky in Round 2. He’s been the best goalie in the playoffs and received almost 40% of your Conn Smythe votes in our poll. With a quick look at his numbers, it’s not surprising.
Looking at his stats, it’s hard to argue that there’s been a better goalie in these NHL playoffs. He saves his team nearly a goal per game relative to league average. His .876 inner slot save percentage is higher than Andrei Vasilevskiy’s overall save percentage (.856) in Round 1. Curtis McElhinney is the only goalie to post better GAA and save percentage, but with only three starts to his name, the sample size isn’t significant enough to challenge Rask for best goalie in the playoffs.
Rask’s Bruins are just a game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, while the Sharks have a 2-1 lead in a hotly contested Western Conference Finals matchup against the Blues. Should both teams seal the deal and advance to the Final, the two top playoff MVP candidates going head-to-head will be a treat to watch.