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Kings court: L.A.’s five candidates for Conn Smythe

Jun 5, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT

Phoenix Coyotes v Los Angeles Kings Getty Images

First things first, the Stanley Cup Final is far from over. The Los Angeles Kings’ 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers in Game 1 showed that this series could be a lot closer than many fans and experts were expecting.

All that aside, if the Kings do win the Stanley Cup, voters are going to have a real hard time settling on one player from Los Angeles to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Five players have distinctly good cases to make to take home the hardware when it’s all said and done. Let’s take a look at the arguments for each of them.

Anze Kopitar — Kopitar leads the playoffs in points scored with 24. He’s been consistently great offensively all throughout the playoffs and he’s been equally strong, if not better, defensively. He’s shut down and outplayed Joe Thornton, Ryan Getzlaf, and Jonathan Toews and is working on Derek Stepan now. If great and consistent all-around play gets it done, he’s your guy.

Marian Gaborik — His 12 goals are tops in the postseason. He’s been everything the Kings have hoped for in helping them have a definitively threatening top line. Playing alongside Kopitar and captain Dustin Brown has helped drive the Kings offense since his arrival at the deadline. It’s not just goals either as he’s piled up 19 points, good for fifth overall in the postseason.

Jeff Carter — Carter has quietly caught up to Kopitar in points (23) and has ignited L.A.’s second line with Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli on his wings. His nine goals put him just behind Gaborik for tops in the playoffs and putting him back at center apart from Mike Richards has helped L.A. become impossible to deal with up the middle.

Justin Williams — You’re probably sick of hearing about his “clutch” play by now but… Can it really be argued anymore? His overtime winner in Game 1 and continued great play in Game 7s through the playoffs has turned him into a mythological character and cult hero in L.A. On top of all that he has 20 points in the playoffs. He’s not just showing up in big moments but all throughout the playoffs.

Drew Doughty — Doughty’s goal to make it 2-2 in Game 1 was something for the all-time highlight reels. His offensive output throughout the postseason has made him out to be a must-watch player and his 17 points make him the highest-scoring defenseman in the playoffs. Add that to his workload averaging nearly 28 minutes per game and matching up against the opponents top players nightly and you’ve got an MVP-like player.

We can’t stress enough that the series isn’t over and if the Rangers do win it’s probably Henrik Lundqvist who walks away with the Conn Smythe, but with an array of talent like this to wrangle, he and the voters will have their hands full.

  1. JoeAvg - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Over the last few years I’ve gone from not knowing much or caring much about the Kings to nothing but respect and admiration of the job Lombardi and his staff have done. This is one hell of a hockey team.

  2. trbowman - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    As of now Kopitar doesn’t deserve it over Doughty and he was outplayed by Toews last series. Doughty should easily be the winner, he’s been a monster on both ends of the ice.

    • hrudey - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      Yeah, that’s why Toews was -1 and scored 3 even strength points against the Kings while Kopitar was +1 and had four even strength points. Clear dominance!

  3. bucrightoff - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    Good thing they have all of these guys cause at different times in the playoffs they’ve needed all of them. Such an amazingly complete team, the Kings and Hawks appear poised to be the teams to beat for years.

  4. luvusa1 - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Hextall deserve a lot of credit as well. He scouted the young talent now on the roster. Lombardi was about to be run out of town. Carter deal probably saved his job then.

  5. phillysports1 - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    BEAT NEW YORK !

  6. jason9696 - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    I think the Conn Smythe is Drew Doughty’s to lose.

    • 19to77 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:10 AM

      The trend recently has been either top-scorer or white-hot goalie (if available), and every regular-season award has turned into a scoring title too. Hence Karlsson’s Norris win. And Subban’s. If Kopitar nets 3-4 points in this series I bet it ends up going to him. I mean, they chose Kane over Crawford and Rask last year and like hell Kane was the most valuable player on EITHER side. So… yeah, good judgement doesn’t necessarily apply here. I HOPE Doughty wins it, anyway.

  7. broadstreetsbaddest88 - Jun 5, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    Justin Williams has been clutch as clutch can be. Tough call but I’d it would be real cool to see Williams get it. I think it’s a matter of who turns it on the most in this series that will end up winning it cause its pretty even at this point.

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