Blog Entry

The case for the Conn

Posted on: June 7, 2010 4:23 pm

Did Chris Pronger blow his chance for the playoff MVP award with one bad night in Game 5? Okay so it was a really miserable night on both a personal and a team level, one that prompted him to say “Thanks for reminding me” to a reporter who rattled off his stats after it was over.

Until Philadelphia’s pivotal loss in Chicago, the big Flyers defenseman had generally been considered the frontrunner for the Conn Smythe Trophy regardless of whether his team ends up as Stanley Cup champions. There is historical precedent for awarding the individual prize to a member of the losing team after all.  In fact the award has gone to a member of the losing team five times, and two of them -- Reggie Leach in 1976 and Ron Hextall in 1987 – were with the Flyers. So there would be a strong case to be made on behalf of Pronger even if Philadelphia fails to pull off another comeback.

Pronger really has been that good throughout the playoffs and certainly he has been the most dominant individual force in the Final. Equally important, he has consistently been the best and most entertaining quote, a factor not to be dismissed since the voting will be done by writers.

Still all bets are off after Game 5 when the Blackhawks developed a strategy to counteract Pronger’s impact by splitting their top unit over three lines. The result was a 7-4 Chicago win over Philadelphia, with Pronger being on the ice for six Blackhawks goals and in the penalty box for the seventh. Overall Pronger was minus-5 on the night, although his coach insisted that was a result of a collective, rather than an individual failing.

“When we're successful, we do it as team, when we lose and we have a night that's tougher, we do it as a team,” Peter Laviolette said. “The minus 5's, are they all (Pronger’s) fault?  No. The whole group needs to be better.”

No kidding.

Of course Philadelphia can still turn this series around, because, well, that’s what the Flyers tend to do when their backs are against the wall. By now you are certainly well aware of the Philadelphia story of adversity reversal that began with its shootout on the final day to get into the playoffs and progressed into a recovery from a 3-0 series deficit against Boston in which it trailed 3-0 in Game 7. And if the Flyers manage to rebound again against Chicago, which will require winning the finale in the Windy City, Game 5 will be forgotten and Pronger’s name will be front and center when it comes time to vote for the playoff MVP.

But there are other candidates from the Flyers who should be in the running if they do win. And obviously there will be some from the Blackhawks if they managed to capture hockey’s biggest prize.

Here’s a look at who they are likely to be:

Duncan Keith: He is likely to win the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman and he has continued to be a dominant force along the blue line in the post season. Keith has been playing about 28 minutes a game, he kills penalties, quarterbacks the power play and triggers the quick breakouts that made Chicago effective. And Keith is fourth on the team in scoring.

Jonathan Toews: Much like Pronger, the 22-year-old Chicago captain was a frontrunner, and arguably the leading Smythe candidate coming into the Final after leading all playoff scorers through the first three rounds. Toews has lost much of his luster in this series in large part because Pronger was so effective in shutting him and his linemates down for the first four games, although Toews still tops the scoring chart. But he has contributed in several other ways and his leadership on a young team cannot be underestimated.

Dustin Byfuglien:  Byfuglien is Chicago’s top physical force and made life miserable for opposing goalies through the first three rounds with his net presence, but he also managed to come up with several big goals. The much-anticipated mano-a-mano matchup with Pronger didn’t materialize in the first four games of the series, but Byfuglien erupted in Game 5 when he flattened Pronger with one of his nine hits and had two goals including the winner. He has five game winners in the post season.

Danny Briere:  The little center with the big chip on his shoulder has finally given the Flyers their money’s worth for the big contract they gave him a couple of years back. Briere was moved back to his natural center position when Jeff Carter was hurt, and he has anchored what has been the best line for Philadelphia and arguably anyone throughout the playoffs. He is second in playoff scoring overall with 27 points and his 11 goals include four game winners.

Mike Richards: Much like Toews, the Flyers captain has been a heart-and-soul type of leader for the Flyers, not to mention one of their most productive players. He’s kept his focus squarely on the big prize despite having to face the media almost every day and playing in more than 110 games this season, counting pre-season and the Olympics, and has 23 points, including a couple of the most memorable goals of the playoffs.

Darkhorse candidates: Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux and Ville Leino; Chicago’s Dave Bolland and Antti Niemi.


Category: NHL

Since: Jan 13, 2009
Posted on: June 8, 2010 1:44 pm

The case for the Conn

I agree, I don't think the refs have determined much, but I've never heard a coach complain more about the refs when his team is actually getting more of the favorable calls in this series.  If Laviolette is more concerned with how the refs are calling it, then he's worried about 5-on-5 hockey.  He knows that Philly can't compete without a special teams edge.  Their power play has kept them in this series.  If the 'Hawks could limit their penalties in Game 6 and play more 5-on-5 hockey, they'll be in good shape.  The Flyers feed off their home ice fans and power plays have been givng the fans reason to cheer.  A "take the crowd out of it" first period is important for the Blackhawks.  They can shake off any nerves or thoughts about the cup and just play.  I see a tie game being decided in the 3rd period by a Toewser rebound.  Hawks win, Toews gets MVP.

Since: May 15, 2008
Posted on: June 8, 2010 1:39 pm

The case for the Conn

The better team is winning. No team has their best effort from every player every game. It has not happened the entire Cup Finals for that matter. When the Blackhawks split their top line and got good games from Kane, Buff, and Toews, Niemi lets by 4 goals, Pronger lays a huge egg, and Leighton gets the hook again. I do agree that I would rather see both teams at their best tomorrow night. If that happens (unlikely) the Hawks are too much for the Flyers whose fans get to watch the Hawks skate the Cup around their barn, and erase any chance Pronger has to be in the mix for the Conn Smythe trophy.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2010 1:27 pm

The case for the Conn

This is the dumbest comment I have seen on here for the strict fact that if you are that good, you will play that good the whole series, it is the FINALS! Now if the Flyers come out and play a great game in game 6, I will say, they "stepped it up a notch" not they showed what kind of team they really are... Both teams have given us a great series to watch and the better team will win...

Since: May 15, 2008
Posted on: June 8, 2010 1:18 pm

The case for the Conn

Great post Die Hard. The refs have not decided any of the games that have been played thus far. Players play through adversity. That's what they get paid to do. You don't always get fair in life, so the hand wringing about the refs and the back and forth gets annoying.

Great series, although the goal tending has stunk in most games, but scoring is what attracts the average fan which is why the ratings have been up for the series. I will take the questionable calls all night long IF it is a fast and physical game. The Blackhawks found their high gear Sunday (the same one that embarassed a decent Sharks team) and there is no way the Flyers can hang with them hitting on all cylinders.

Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: June 8, 2010 1:09 pm

The case for the Conn

Are Philly fans joking. this series is over Wednesday night. There will be a complete A$$ whoping put on by the Hawks. Buff will score 3, wax Prongers face on the glass a couple of more times, moon the Philly fans and win the MVP. Get off Prongers jock and start watching a real player who doesn't have to take pucks and dispose of them because he is a little biatch. STANLEY CUP CHAMPS  HAWKS ALL DAY BABY

Since: Jun 1, 2010
Posted on: June 8, 2010 12:45 pm

The case for the Conn

OMG can't believe all the rediculous comments (especially from Philly fans)...but quite entertaining I must say.  EA sports had their game simulator picking the Penguins and Hawks in 7 games for the cup with the Hawks winning it in OT.  Why?  Because of some great talent, numbers ets...for the Blackhawks (and Pitt).  I mean can a Flyer fan actually disagree with the Hawks having some great talent, one of the best teams in the league bar none?   But guess what?  Where is Pitt?  Sometimes great teams fall...just how it goes.  Flyers are playing great no doubt, i mean they have nothing to lose as they just squeaked into the playoffs.  No one expected them to go this far.  BTW, Pronger gets away with murder (i.e. cross checks etc...), but if he gets away with it, he's a genius for continuing to push the envelope.   I really hope the hawks turn on the heat just like they did on Game 5, probably the most dominating period of any series I have watched this season (and I watched every game I could from Pitt, Montreal, Sharks etc...).  All said, it has been a great series for the fans.  GO HAWKS

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2010 11:35 am

The case for the Conn

"Woulda, coulda, shoulda...."  That's the "rallying cry" for the Flyers fans it seems.  It's always an excuse of some sort.  According to them, the Blackhawks didn't win any of the games, the Flyers "shoulda" made 5 or 6 more goals in each game.  Or they "woulda" won if the officiating didn't suck in that one game.  (Though the officiating has been HEAVILY in the Flyers' favor throughout....)  Or they "coulda" won game 5 if the Blackhawks didn't get those 7 lucky goals in the game.


Each team won their games.  No "ifs, ands, or buts" about it.  While I personally feel that the 'Hawks have been jobbed by the officiating, especially in games 1 & 4, they've risen to the challenge and hold that 3-2 advantage while still maintaining home-ice.  No team has been "given" a game through "what ifs".  And despite my displeasure of the officiating, I do not believe that they've actually given a win to either team, they've just made it a bit more difficult and a lot tighter for each team.

AllI am asking and really wating is that game 6 is "drama free" in terms of the officiating.  Period.  However, I strongly suspect they'll do all they can to assist the Flyers (I say the Blackhawks receive 3 to 4 more penalties than the Flyers) in order to gain that huge money-making game 7 for the NHL.  The Flyers are a good enough team to win on their own, they do not need assistance.  I just want a clean, fairly-officiated game for two very good teams.  Not too much to ask, is it?

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2010 11:04 am

The case for the Conn

"THe FLyers missed 6 open nets in the game 3 on the PP, score could have swayed easily from a flopping Niemi..."

If "ifs" were fifths we'd all be drunk.  If the Hawks didn't ding 2 or 3 off the post in game 3 it would have been a different game...see it's stupid sounding to say if they would have executed on their chances it would have been different.  The fact is they didn't, part of the game.  Also concerning game 5, the fact is everytime the Flyers tried to get back in the game the Hawks scored again.  Yes Philli scored 4 goals the last 2 periods but so did the Blackhawks. 

I think you meant to say gm 5 but my arguement still applies.

Since: Feb 3, 2007
Posted on: June 8, 2010 10:54 am

The case for the Conn

"No, the only thing we saw in game 5 was the Flyers laying an egg, nothing more."

Ok, I will use that same excuse for the Hawks in Games 3 and 4...sooooo the series should be over now, Hawks are better.  End of story.  Listen, enough arguing...any Flyers fan that actually thinks the Flyers are better than the Hawks are seriously deranged and do not know anything about hockey.....and, what I mean by knowing something about hockey is actually playing the game your entire life.  Flyers are good, but they are not great by any stretch.  I have watched the Hawks all season and I can tell you WITH CERTAINTY that they have not played up to their potential during the playoffs....And i'm not just talking during the Finals, but the entire playoffs.  I mean, the mere fact that the Hawks are up 3-2 is enough evidence...they don't even need to play their best hockey and they are still better.  Look back at all the tape of both teams throughout the season and then look back at this series and i guarantee you will see that the the Flyers have been playing out of their asses and the Hawks have played mediocre.  Honestly, the Flyers are a good, gritty team, which can take you deep into the playoffs, but they are not a Stanley Cup champion quality team.  They capitalized on nearly every single unforced error that the Hawks made in Games 3 and 4, which is good for them but, in reality, even in the playoffs, you miss a good portion of those perfect chances.  Along comes Game 5, the Hawks start playing better (for one period at least, which is all they needed to play) and the horseshoe fell out of the Flyers asses.  Game over.  I fully expect a repeat in Game 6. 

So this is my last post until Thursday morning. I hope that all of you Flyers fans talking s&%$ have the balls to blog on this site Thursday morning with your tails between your legs b/c the Hawks are going to end it in Game 6.

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2010 10:43 am

The case for the Conn

Trippico, because he has done it his whole career. Now this thread is for the MVP talk. One man broke down the CHI top lines for 4 straight games. The CHI coach actually had to break his lineup because of one man. How often if ever does that happen where one defenseman changes the lineups because he shuts em down? I remember Lid and Stevens doing stuff like that. Enough with the crosschecking, slashing and hooking whining all Defenseman playing in this series are doing it and a lot and they are not called as much as Pronger that is Stanley Cup hockey or maybe this is the first you watched, dont listen to Eddy O (CHI announcer) point out only Pronger everytime which he does it is classless. Dont listen to JR (wearing his Blackhawks jersey each time call Pronger BUSH League LOL, JR was a cheap player I know we both had him for a long time. The truth is Pronger is owning the top forwards, and game 5 is a team letdown because Pronger letdown (catch the hidden meaning), CHi was flyin all over the place with emotion as the Flyers came out flat and apathetic. That was the difference in the game. Game 6 you will see the difference back to good old Pronger business as usual. CHI has loads of talent up front cant say otherwise, for Pronger to play like a GOD in the first 4 is incredible. Give credit where it is due. He is the MVP, followed close by Keith whom I cant say enough about as well, he has shutdown Richards, Carter and Gagne ( i dont care for the Carter injury crap) if he is hurting that bad he should not be out there. Kudos to Keith and Pronger two excellent offensive shutdown D men!!!!!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or