Each year, the NHL awards the Conn Smythe Trophy to the most valuable player during the Stanley Cup playoffs. And each year since 2010, Hockey Prospectus' GVT metric has been able to accurately forecast the award winner. With the 2013 Stanley Cup finals now set, who holds the lead in the postseason MVP race?
Nearly impossible to score on in the Eastern Conference finals -- he gave up just two goals to Pittsburgh all series -- Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask now leads the Conn Smythe watch.
Conn Smythe Power Rankings
are through the end of Round 3.
Rask had one of the greatest playoff performances against the
Penguins, with a save percentage of .985 (yes, you read that right). His two
goals allowed were the second-lowest ever in a best-of-seven series, behind
only Jean-Sebastien Giguere's one goal against Minnesota in 2003.
In the last 20 years, only two players have led the playoffs in
scoring more than once: Joe Sakic (1996 and 2001) and Peter Forsberg (1999
and 2002). Krejci is looking to become the third, currently leading the
playoff scoring race by four points.
Horton's offensive stats have been spectacular, but he'll have
to take fewer penalties than the three he took in four games against
Pittsburgh; it's unlikely the Blackhawks' power play will be as ineffective
as the Penguins' was.
Los Angeles Kings
The third round against Chicago marked the first time in seven
playoff series that Quick's save percentage dropped below .939 or that his
goals-against average was above 1.59.
Chicago needed only a 2.63 GAA and a .910 save percentage from
Antti Niemi to win the Cup in 2010. Crawford has been significantly better,
with a 1.74 GAA and .935 save percentage in 17 games.
Los Angeles Kings
What a difference a year makes. Last season, Voynov scored only
three points in 20 playoff games and never played on the penalty kill; this
year he scored 13 playoff points and was entrusted with some short-handed
Letang had a great first two rounds and still leads all
defensemen in playoff scoring, but like teammates Sidney Crosby and Evgeni
Malkin, he was held pointless against Boston, leading to the Bruins' sweep.
Since 2008, Hossa has played 92 playoff games, the most in the
NHL, and is fourth in playoff points with 76. He is now returning to the
Stanley Cup finals for the fourth time in six years.
Sharp's playoff scoring is nothing new: He has 30 playoff goals
over the last five years, second only to Sidney Crosby's 31.
Another member of Chicago's insane draft haul from 2002 to 2007,
Bickell scored only nine goals during the regular season but has eight
already in the playoffs, second only to Krejci, despite limited ice time.
Lest you think he is just finishing the brilliant plays of his more heralded
teammates, the only Hawk who has assisted on more than one Bickell goal is