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Giroux, Smith lead early Conn Smythe candidates

Claude Giroux

It’s only the second round of the playoffs, but it’s also been a very slow news day, so let’s talk early Conn Smythe Trophy candidates.

Claude Giroux (Flyers) – Pretty hard to bet against a guy with 15 points in seven games. Giroux has five more points than the NHL’s second-leading playoff scorer, teammate Danny Briere. The only possible thing you could say to mitigate Giroux’s performance is that most of it came in a series that made the 1980s look tight-checking, with 1980s goaltending to match.

Mike Smith (Coyotes) – No goalie’s been busier in the playoffs. Not even close. Smith’s faced 316 shots in eight games, six of which have gone to overtime. Phoenix has been outshot in all but one of its games (yesterday versus Nashville.) Without Smith, the Coyotes probably don’t beat Chicago, and isn’t that the epitome of most valuable?

Jonathan Quick (Kings) – Only Vancouver’s Cory Schneider has a better save percentage than Quick (.955), and only one of those two has a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Quick was named the first star in Saturday’s 3-1 win at St. Louis, building on a first-round performance against Vancouver that saw him surrender just eight goals in five games to the Presidents’ Trophy winners.

Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers) – The consensus favorite to win the Vezina for best regular-season goalie has been even better in the playoffs, posting a .945 save percentage in eight games. The postseason hasn’t always gone well for Lundqvist, but he’s doing just fine this time around.

Andy McDonald (Blues) – Eight points (4G, 4A) in six games on a defense-first team. Of the players on clubs that haven’t been eliminated, only Claude Giroux and Danny Briere have more points per game than McDonald (1.33). And McDonald didn’t get to shoot on Marc-Andre Fleury in the first round.