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Pittsburgh Penguins Conn Smythe candidates

Taking a peek at the past to the 22 playoff games so far this season to determine who the leading contenders from the Penguins for playoff MVP should be

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

22 games into the playoffs, and with as few as one game left, now is as good a time as ever to turn an eye towards the Pittsburgh Penguins top candidates for the Conn Smythe trophy.

Phil Kessel


(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images)

Stats: 22 games played; 10 goals, 11 assists, 91 shots on goal

Credentials: leads team in goals, points and SOG, power play goals (5) and power play points (10).

The case: Kessel's been the best player on the league's best line this playoff, and he has been a  steady force recording at least a point in 15 of the 22 playoff games. His consistency has been on display as well, scoring 6 points in each of the first 3 series, and 3 points so far in the Stanley Cup Final.

Odds: Not a runaway clear-cut leader, but probably has to be considered the favorite thus far considering his leads in the major boxcar stats.

Matt Murray


(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images)

Stats: 19 games, 14-5 record, 2.09 GAA, .925 save %, 1 shutout

Credentials: His 14 playoff wins as a rookie put him in elite company of all-time and his .925 save % would be the 2nd best in franchise history in the playoffs (minimum 2 rounds).

The case: Murray's emerged as the Penguins go-to guy in net with steady play. He's an impressive 5-0 coming off a loss, but with only 5 losses in 19 games, he hasn't lost that much, including only 2 times in regulation. Murray's allowed 2 or fewer goal in 12 of his 19 games and has won 5 of 6 games after getting pulled for rest in the Tampa series.

Odds: If it's not Kessel, one would think it's going to be Murray. However, the Penguins have outshot the opposition 12 of the last 13 games, they haven't needed their goalie to stand on his head for very long. Murray's been called on to make some tough stops and he's done his job well, but this isn't a team that's built around a goalie.

Kris Letang


Stats: 21 gp, 2g + 11a, 28:50 time played per game

Credentials: Letang is playing almost 29 minutes a night, the next still-healthy player on the team has 21:18 (Brian Dumoulin), Letang has been an elite #1 defenseman and an engine for the entire team in every and all situations.

The case: Letang's case is in terms of his value - would the Pens be still playing (let alone up 3-1) if Ryan Callahan had done severe damage to Letang when he boarded him in Game 1 of the ECF?

Odds: Probably not all that good. Letang's merited consideration with his play, but he is a longshot to win the award.

Sidney Crosby


(Photo Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

Stats: 22gp, 6g+ 11a, 3 GWG, 52.0% on faceoffs

Credentials: Crosby's boxcars aren't team-leading as is his typical, however he's playing a very complete game. His 20 takeaways are best on the team. He's taken 517 faceoffs, which is 137 more than his next closest teammate (Nick Bonino). All his game winners, including an overtime goal, came in the Tampa series in the ECF.

The case: There is a case to be made for Crosby's value all over the ice, and as we know the hockey world loves to decorate Sid. And, often times he deserves it, but this time we would have to look in a different direction. However, don't forget Crosby's no stranger to finishing strong, he does have the last 2 "golden goals" in the Olympics, so a strong closing game might tip the recency effect to his favor.

Odds: At this point and with almost all returns in, not all that great, but Crosby can't be counted out with another great performance.