Jonathan Toews in running for 2nd Conn Smythe | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaJonathan Toews in running for 2nd Conn Smythe

Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 01:10 PM

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Jonathan Toews leads the playoffs with four game-winning goals, but the Chicago captain's full impact must be measured at both ends of the ice. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Jonathan Toews leads the playoffs with four game-winning goals, but the Chicago captain's full impact must be measured at both ends of the ice. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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As we near the midway point of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Chicago Blackhawks captain and 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Toews is among a group of leading contenders for the prestigious playoff MVP trophy.
Is the Conn Smythe Trophy Jonathan Toews's to lose?

As we near the midway point of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks captain is among a group of leading contenders for the prestigious playoff MVP trophy.

Toews has five goals -- four of which are game-winners -- and 10 points in 12 games. Brad Richards of the New York Rangers set the NHL record for most game-winning goals in a single post-season when he scored seven in 2004 for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

With Toews, though, it's always about more than just goals and points. It's about giving it his all every time he steps over the boards and about being a difference-maker at both ends of the ice.

With two rounds (plus a Game 7 between Los Angeles and Anaheim) still to be played, there's plenty of time for players to make a serious charge toward winning the Conn Smythe. For now the list can be broken down into three groups:

Best bets

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks: When his team lost its first two games against St. Louis, Toews scored at 4:10 of the first period of Game 3 to set the tone for what would amount to a great comeback for the Blackhawks. The 2010 Conn Smythe winner is averaging fewer than two shots a game, but making them count.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: The 26-year-old Price's confidence and calm demeanour set the tone for the rest of the team. In five elimination games in 2014 (including the Winter Olympics) Price is 5-0. His ability to shrug off a bad goal or a loss has been monumental in the Habs' ascent.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: The Rangers don't have a huge point producer lighting it up, nor do they have a stud on the blue-line setting the tone. So it comes down to Lundqvist to lead the way, and he has come through with the second-best goals-against average (1.99) and save percentage (.931) in the playoffs.

Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings: Early in his career the Kings felt it necessary to surround the Slovenian with North American players who could teach him the ins and outs of winning in the NHL. Now he is a true leader and solid two-way performer who sets the example for others. He leads the playoffs with 17 points in 13 games.  

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks:
The hulking centre took a puck to the face that caused 50-plus stitches in the first round and didn't skip a beat. In a season in which he has been nominated for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player of the regular season, Getzlaf hasn't skipped a beat in the playoffs, producing four goals and 14 points in 11 games.

In the conversation

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: The ying to Toews's yang, Kane has chipped in three game-winning goals as the Blackhawks try to become the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups since Detroit in 1997 and '98.

P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens: Subban has been an offensive force for the surprising Habs, compiling four goals and 12 points through 11 games. The Norris Trophy-winning defenceman continues to be a rising star in the NHL, but his team-worst 18 giveaways in the post-season are a concern.

Martin St. Louis, New York Rangers: The veteran winger has had his struggles in New York since arriving in a trade from Tampa Bay, but seems decidedly inspired to be his best since his mother passed away suddenly last week. St. Louis would need to pick up the pace on offence to improve his standing in the race for the Conn Smythe.

Marian Gaborik, Los Angeles Kings: The Kings were looking for secondary scoring when they acquired Gaborik from Columbus at the trade deadline. All he's done is lead the playoffs in goals with eight. Gaborik has been a disappointment in the past when asked to be a team's go-to guy, but seems perfectly suited to being a support player.

Longshots

Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks: After a disappointing regular season during which he managed just 11 goals and 15 points in 59 games, the six-foot-four, 233-pound left-winger has picked up where he left off in last year's post-season, scoring six goals and nine points in 12 games. A year ago Bickell had nine goals and 17 points in 23 games.

Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks: The veteran defenceman was banished for three games in the first round for elbowing David Backes of the St. Louis Blues in the head, but has otherwise played superbly. He is tied for the team lead in scoring with 11 points.

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks: His run for the Conn Smythe depends on the outcome of Game 7 against the Kings on Friday. If the 20-year-old stopper wins that game and continues to play superbly through the third round, he will most certainly gain a lot of support for the award.

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