The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the “player judged most valuable to his team during the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs” and is selected by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the conclusion of the deciding game of the Stanley Cup finals. The current holder of the trophy is Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Only three players have been awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy (for most valuable player during the regular season) in the same year: the Boston Bruins’ Bobby Orr in 1970 and 1972, the Montreal Canadiens’ Guy Lafleur in 1977 and the Edmonton Oilers’ Wayne Gretzky in 1985.
But where does that leave us, the Washington Capitals fans? Cold and alone? No! Rock the Red has decided to nominate members of the Washington Capitals’ roster for each of the NHL’s awards, and pick a winner accordingly. The best part is you don’t even have to wait until the last game of the Stanley Cup playoffs to find out who wins!
In alphabetical order:
John Carlson 7 games, 1 goal, 4 points, +6, 20:14 TOI/G
Carlson looked right at home during the playoffs, rising to the challenge in every imaginable way. He saw more ice time than every Capital but Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom – the trio of which the teams’ power play unit is comprised of. He tied for fourth on the roster in postseason scoring – on a team that had 4 of the top 21 scorers at the end of the regular season. His postseason pairings (74-3, 74-27) resulted in a +15 rating at the end of the series – more than the starting first line of Ovechkin (+5), Backstrom (+7) and Knuble (+2) combined. His game-tying tally with 1:21 remaining in Game Two was one of the biggest goals of the Capitals’ recent postseasons. Aside from poor positioning which resulted in the second Canadiens goal in Game Seven, his play was astounding.
Eric Fehr 7 games, 3 goals, 4 points, +2, 11:24 TOI/G
Fehr finished the postseason third on the roster in goals, behind Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom (each with 5), and fourth on the team in postseason points, behind Ovechkin (10), Backstrom (9), and Mike Knuble (6). Fehr’s goals came at pivotal moments; cutting Montreal’s lead in half while facing a 2-0 deficit in Game Two, keeping the foot on the Habs throat (and stifling any shift in momentum) while leading 2-0 in Game Three, and spoiling Halak’s shutout bid while down 3-0 in the third period of Game Six. Fehr was a strong contributor on the third line adding shots (20), hits (6), blocked shots (3), strong checking and creating offensive opportunities for himself and his line mates – even while taking the second lowest number of shifts (110) and seeing the second lowest total ice time (79:51) of Caps that played all seven games.
Boyd Gordon 6 games, 1 goal, 2 points, +2, 11:01 TOI/G
Gordon was able to combat the Capitals’ power play lack of scoring by being the center of two shorthanded goals in Games Three and Four. His shorty in Game Three was the first goal for the Caps’ in nearly 54 minutes, and led to three goals in 7:27 which chased Jaroslav Halak from the contest. His assist on Mike Knuble’s shorty in Game Four changed the momentum of the game, allowing the Capitals to cash in on four unanswered goals. In addition to finishing +2 in 14:43 SH TOI, Gordon raised his game and added 11 shots on goal and take a team high 67.9% of his draws in the face-off circle. 8 hits, 2 blocked shots, 2 takeaways, and not being whistled for a penalty rounded out Gordon’s stellar postseason.
Honorable Mention: Nicklas Backstrom 7 games, 5 goals, 9 points, +7, 21:03 TOI/G
And your winner, pretending that the Washington Capitals are the only team in the NHL, and we are the sole voters in the PHWA: (drumroll, please) John Carlson!
Former Washington Capitals’ Conn SmytheTrophy winners: None