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

The case for the Conn

And yea leave politics out of hockey

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2010 10:27 am

The case for the Conn

But as for Pronger MVP, I dont see anyone else ahead of him, Keith would be my second vote for it close with Briere. Toews would be 4th because he really hasnt showed up in this series, I know he was leading before the finals. I know it is the whole playoffs, but the finals is the biggest part and he is just average because of Pronger, who has shutdown every top player every series, minus last games letdown he is the Flyers and they wouldnt be here without him. I think Chicago had a shot without Toews. Keith has been wicked all playoffs and they  wouldnt have made it without him. It will come down to them two unless CHI finds a way to stop Briere which most likely wont happen with Leino and Hartnell owning.

Since: Apr 24, 2008
Posted on: June 8, 2010 10:24 am

The case for the Conn

Someone want to explain to me how the Stanley Cup finals has anything to do with the President of the United States and politics?  Why was he brought up?  Obama and for that matter Repulican bashers need to quietly logout and go to Foxnews or CNN or MSNBC and complain about politics.  Leave this sports stuff to the people who want to talk sports.  That said, Pronger has been effective because he has been using his stick much like a gladiator and cross-checking the bejesus out of Byfuglien in front.  Credit Pronger for doing it since he's getting away with it, but we all know he's getting away with a cross checking penalty each and every time he does it.  Philly will come out hitting on Wednesday but I see the Hawks playing with them every step and more so, but Philly will just have to much emotion and desire to not lose on home ice.  Flyers in OT in Game 6.  Game 7 at the UC will be one of two things, either Philly grinds it down like game 2 or the Hawks just run a tired and spent Philly team out of the building.  Either way, Hawks do not let Philly win the Cup in the United Center.  Hawks in 7.

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2010 10:14 am

The case for the Conn

I think game 5 is way under looked, The hawks owned the first period no doubt but not the game, kind of like how the Flyers owned the Hawks in the first period the previous game. THe FLyers missed 6 open nets in the game 3 on the PP, score could have swayed easily from a flopping Niemi, they also scored 4 goals in the next 2 periods with all the empty net misses, say what you want but the score could have been much much closer even though the bhawks had the first period edge. Good thing for the FLyers no matter how dominant you think the bhawks were the flyers scored 4 goals and had 6 open net misses, kind of sloppy to be SUCH a DOMINANT game methinks. FLyers will rebound with a win at home AGAIN it is what they do.

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

The case for the Conn

It is a good post with some valid points. Chicago did play a lot better then they have. However, if you think it had nothing to do with Philly looking like @$$, then you're crazy. Chicago played their best game and Philly played their worst game. End result a 7-4 score. If you look at the whole game, the 1st period is what killed the Flyers. A three goal defecit (2 soft goals) is hard to overcome against a great team. The next 2 periods were equal. In the end it will be who wants it more. I think both teams are pretty equal. The Flyers shocked many by equaling Chicago's push. Every sports writer had Chicago. Some even said they would sweep! Great exciting series among two great teams! Oh and as far as Chicago's coach being a genious for breaking up his lines, many sports writers have been suggesting it long before the coach finally did it! Guess their genious too! LET'S GO FLYERS!!! Take game six and then stun Chicago fans and win the Cup on their ice!

Since: Feb 3, 2007
Posted on: June 8, 2010 9:59 am

The case for the Conn

Dude! Take it one game at a time! I want to win game 6! LET'S GO FLYERS!

Since: Jul 16, 2008
Posted on: June 8, 2010 9:45 am

The case for the Conn

It looks like Chicago was able to handle Pronger just fine in game 5 after Coach Q split up his top line.  What makes you think that Pronger can adjust and will be better?

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2010 9:22 am

The case for the Conn

On a similiar note, your city produced Joe Biden...thats not much better....

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2010 8:30 am

The case for the Conn

antitam-cg54 = TROLL.  Do not feed the troll, people.  It joined up on June 7th to spout nothing but idiocy.  Ignore it.

Anyway the only way Pronger wins any kind of award is with the Flyers winning the Cup..... and that won't happen.  They have not beaten the 'Hawks in the UC, nor have the Blackhawks won in Philly.  If just the home teams win throughout, I'm good with that. 

However, the Flyers will be playing with extreme desperation in trying to get to a game 7, while the Blackhawks will be looking to close it out with a flourish.  The last 2 play off series the opposing team played the same way against the 'Hawks and they lost because they made mistakes.  The same could happen on Wednesday night for the Flyers.  Plus I think Byfuglien has finally figured out Pronger and is going to win that battle from this point forward.  From about the mid-3rd period of game 5 on, Byfuglien has out played, out hit, and out hustled Pronger.  Those 30+ minute games have caught up to him.

Blackhawks are going to win this series.  It hasn't been easy though.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: June 8, 2010 1:35 am

The case for the Conn

The hawks had yet to play their best game this series through 4 games, and they showed what they are capable of in game 5 No, the only thing we saw in game 5 was the Flyers laying an egg, nothing more.  Leighton hasn't played good in any game yet so far, but it fully capable of being a shut down goalie.  The truth is the Flyers have yet to show what they are capable of yet either, and guess why?  Its because these teams are evenly matched.  I thought after 5 games where each team dominated one, and the other three were dead even, it would be plain to see, but I suppose its too hard to take off the homer goggles for some.

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