Despite being less than half way through the playoffs, some players have already stood above the rest, earning a possible candidacy for the Conn Smyth Trophy, the award given to the most valuable player in the postseason.
NBC's ProHockeyTalk has named five superstars who they believe already show early promise as their teams fight for the Cup.
Claude Giroux -- Giroux is leading the postseason in points by a mile, recording 15 in his last seven games. With a plus-5 rating, Giroux has been an absolute key to his team's success and truly showed all he's capable of in the 'bloodbath' series against Pittsburgh.
Mike Smith -- Although he's not exactly the most liked person in Chicago right now, Smith is proving he can keep up with the big boys. He's faced the most shots throughout the playoffs (316 in eight games) and has had to play in six overtimes.
Jonathan Quick -- The Kings have been put on the map thanks to this guy right here. Quick has made some nearly impossible saves, earning a .955 save percentage and leading LA to a spot in the postseason, despite being the worst offensive team in the league a good majority of the season. Quick is also one of three goalies battling for the Vezina Trophy.
Henrik Lundqvist -- Another candidate for the Vezina, Lundqvist has recorded a .945 save percentage in his last eight games of the postseason. Many analysts predict he will win the award for top goaltending, but he would have to remain very strong against the Capitals and throughout the remainder of the season to beat Quick and possibly even Pekka Rinne.
Andy McDonald -- McDonald has been the Blues' superstar, earning four goals and four assists in six games. He is currently the third highest scorer in the league throughout the postseason, just behind Giroux and Danny Briere of the Flyers. Now the real test is seeing how many he can score on Quick throught the remainder of the Western Conference semi-finals.
While I agree that these five are strong candidates so far, I think Briere needs to be added to the list. Philadelphia's center has recorded seven goals and three assists in his 2012 playoff run. A 38.9 shooting percentage sure isn't too shabby, and helped elevate the Flyers to dominate the Penguins in the first series.
Who do you think is the best candidate for the Conn Smythe at the point in the postseason?