As we announced yesterday, we the bloggers of Rock the Red will be awarding various accolades through the first part of the Washington Capitals' off season. Some will be real, some fictitious- but always entertaining. Today we hand out the Conn Smythe trophy.
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 Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. As a side note that you can use to win a bar bet with your friends, 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.
This year's nominations selected solely from members from the Caps' roster are:
King Karl stepped up this off season and became the defacto Captain of the Defense, leading all Caps skaters with 24:53 TOI/G. He lead by example, as seen by his 33 blocked shots (good for 5th in the NHL this post season) and did not commit a penalty in any of his 14 games. He carried DC in even strength play, being on the ice for only eight goals in five-on-five play (s/t to Japers' Rink for the stat), and was relied on heavily during the team's Penalty Kill, leading all skaters with 3:40 SH TOI/G. However, as much as people talk about his measurable defensive stats, we're more impressed with the things that don't show up as metrics: his defensive angles, his stick positioning and pokechecking, and his ability to pin guys along the boards without having to crunch them to do it. He looked calm beyond his years against two very good, skilled teams.
Chimmer's speed, grit, desire and determination were on full display this entire post season. He was second on the team with 4 goals and tied for third in points... all while skating a mere 13:42 a game. His career year in goals (20) and points (39) during the regular season seemed to carry into the NHL's second season, as his 14.3 Shooting % was the best among the Caps playing all 14 games. We were pleasantly surprised to see Chimera showing flashes of possessing great hands and with quality passing and quality shots on goal.
The Holtbeast quickly became the darling of the NHL postseason. Making his first post season debut this year, he went 7-7 in 14 games with four of the losses in over time. Holtby faced 459 shots in 921:56 of play time, which lead the NHL through the Quarter and Semi-Final rounds, and amassed a 1.95 GAA and .935 Sv% - and is just the third goaltender to best a .920 Sv % and 2.00 GAA (in a minimum of 13 games played) in the playoffs at 22 or younger (Brodeur 1994,95 and Roy 1986). Braden, in addition to becoming a father during the post season, was named a star in six of the team's 14 games- three being the games' First star. Holtby finished his first post season campaign without suffering back-to-back losses.
Stay tuned tomorrow, as the awards ceremony progresses!