Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 6/13/13
Each year, the Conn Smythe Trophy is given to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Unlike the NFL, NBA and MLB, the playoff award is given to the best player in the entire postseason and not just the final round. Goaltenders tend to get the award often. The last two winners were netminders, as were five of the last 10. This year, the goaltenders on each side appear to be the favorites, but there’s still time for that to change. Here’s a look at the four top contenders for the 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins Goaltenders are always a good bet for the Conn Smythe Trophy, and Rask, the Bruins netminder, is definitely a frontrunner. Although he was a bit shaky in the first round, Rask is coming off a series where he allowed just two goals to the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins. Entering the Stanley Cup Final, he had allowed just nine goals in his last 12 playoff games. If the Bruins win, he’s a good bet to be named the playoffs’ Most Valuable Player. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks The Blackhawks are known more for their offense than defense, yet Crawford’s goaltending is one of the main reasons why the Blackhawks are even in the final. They were favored to win the Stanley Cup on the NHL odds at -150 at the beginning of the series, but they likely wouldn’t have made it this far without Crawford. He stood on his head when the Blackhawks were down 3-1 in their second-round series with the Detroit Red Wings and then outplayed last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Jonathan Quick, in the conference finals. His 1.74 goals-against average entering the final was a smidgen better than Rask (1.75). If the Blackhawks win the Cup, he’ll likely be named the MVP. David Krejci, Boston Bruins Krejci had 33 points in the regular season, but he’s already registered 23 in the playoffs. He leads the playoff participants in points, and naturally, that makes him the best candidate among scorers for the Conn Smythe (assuming the Bruins win). Krejci is the only player with 20 or more points, and he’s registered a point in all but three playoff games. He’s the forward with the best chance to win the MVP award, but he’ll have to lead the Bruins to one more series win to be in contention. Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks Bickell is definitely the longest shot of the bunch, but if there is a Blackhawks forward who is worthy of the award, it would be him. Although it’s hard to believe, the big Blackhawks forward is tied for the team lead with eight goals in the playoffs after netting just nine in the regular season. His impact goes beyond the stat sheet, though, as he’s been an immovable force in front of the net. It’s unlikely that Bickell would leapfrog Crawford for the award should the Blackhawks win the Cup, but another productive round from him just might do the trick.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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