NHL: Why Tim Thomas is the Only Choice For the Conn Smythe Trophy
So it’s down to Game 6 now. Before the series, I predicted the Canucks in six games. And although I second-guessed myself after Game 4, and still seriously doubt whether or not Vancouver can put this series away, I will stick with that prediction and hope to be right.
But no matter who wins Game 6, or a tentative Game 7, for that matter, there is only one Conn Smythe candidate that can even be considered: Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. Just look at these stats: 2.07 goals against average, .937 save percentage, three shutouts, 774 saves, and over 1,400 minutes played — without being pulled once. Those are the best stats since J.S. Giguere posted a 1.62 goals against average and a .945 save percentage when he brought his Mighty Ducks within one goal of a Stanley Cup championship.
Just to be fair, though, let’s look at the other candidates, since all media members must put five people on their ballot before the Stanley Cup is won. Many of the voting body are going to put Roberto Luongo on the ballot, most likely somewhere in the top three. His stats are fairly impressive, with a .919 save percentage and a 2.43 goals against average. However, you have to realize that he was pulled twice in these playoffs, and was even sitting on the bench at the start of a game in the quarterfinals against Chicago. That, along with the 12 goals he let up in Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup final, show me that he was nothing close to the most valuable player — even if he happens to shut Boston out in Game 6.
Moving outside the crease, there are only a few skaters that are even slightly deserving of the famous trophy. If Boston wins the Cup, only David Krejci and Brad Marchand stand out to me. Krejci has scored 11 goals and 11 assists in 23 games, and is a plus-7 throughout the playoffs. He’s deserved plenty of ice time, and has received it from coach Claude Julien. Marchand has only posted 15 points in 23 games thus far, but has been a force in every game this postseason. Basically, whenever you see a small player flying around the ice, throwing bodies into the boards, stealing pucks in the blink of an eye, or sniping pucks on net, it is most likely Marchand, doing what he does best. When he has been on the ice, he is always a threat to score, and seems to give the Bruins even more energy when he is out there.
On the Canucks’ side, Henrik Sedin is the team’s leading scorer, with 2 goals and 19 assists in these playoffs. However, in the Stanley Cup final, he has been neutralized by the Bruins’ defense, and has been on the ice for numerous Bruins goals in this series. He is also a minus-8 these playoffs. The only other possible option for the Canucks is Ryan Kesler. Through the first three rounds of the playoffs, Kesler was dominant, scoring whenever the Canucks needed him. But in the Stanley Cup final, most likely because of the injury he suffered in the third round, he has been nowhere to be found. Although he still has 19 points this postseason, his play in the fourth and final round is nothing worthy of awarding him the league’s MVP.
In my opinion, the best way to determine the Conn Smythe winner is to look at every player at the end of the final. Knowing how everyone would perform, who would you take on your team first? I think there isn’t even a debate that Thomas would be the first and only choice. Even if the Bruins lose in Game 6 and watch as the Canucks parade Lord Stanley around TD Garden, there is no one more deserving of the playoff MVP than the former 31-year-old rookie.