Conn Smythe: The case for Rask
Boston's goaltender has been the driving force behind Bruins' success
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Although it is too soon to choose a playoff MVP -- the Stanley Cup hasn't even been awarded yet -- we can say who our choice would be if the series were to end today. The Bruins may be down 3-2 in this confrontation of closely matched teams, but they have shown the best team defense in the league. In particular, Tuukka Rask has been by far the best goaltender in this season's playoffs, performing well against the Toronto Maple Leafs (.923 save percentage) and New York Rangers (.936) before completely smothering the league's best offensive team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Even if the Bruins lose, you can make a strong case for Rask as the playoff MVP. Consider the previous player to win the Conn Smythe from the losing team, goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere with Anaheim in 2003. Giguere finished that playoff run with a save percentage of .945 and a goals-against average of 1.62. That's not far from Rask's current totals: .941 and 1.83.
Some credit for Rask's performance also should go to his teammates, especially defenseman Zdeno Chara; after all, this team won the Stanley Cup just two years ago with Tim Thomas in net. Consideration also should be given to the Blackhawks' stars, especially Patrick Kane, who has been the most dynamic scorer of the finals. But if we had to pick a player right now as the playoff MVP, Rask would be our choice.
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