Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Osgood's Conn Smythe Case

The biggest story of the Stanley Cup finals so far is that the Pittsburgh Penguins have yet to score any goals. They played two games and lost by scores of 4-0 and 3-0. Given their high powered offensive stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa this is a surprising outcome. I think the Detroit Red Wings team defence has played two outstanding games (and to a lesser degree an outstanding playoff - having allowed a playoff leading 1.72 goals per game). The story of the two games so far has been that Pittsburgh has had few scoring chances. They were limited to 22 shots in game two and 19 shots in game one. Detroit's goaltending has been solid, but it hasn't stolen the show. In fact, I am hard pressed to name any game where Chris Osgood stole a win for the Red Wings.

Nevertheless, there is a movement to name Chris Osgood the playoff MVP. Here is a James Mirtle post making that case. Osgood has some very good numbers in the playoffs. His 1.38 GAA and .939 saves percentage both lead the league. But those numbers both look inflated by the presence of a really good defence in front of him. You cannot give the Conn Smythe Trophy to the entire Detroit defence, so you give it to Osgood on behalf of the defence. The problem is that Osgood may have played well, but he hasn't been the game stealer at any point. That is usually the mark of Conn Smythe worthy goaltending.

I would give the Conn Smythe to Henrik Zetterberg who leads the playoffs in goals, points and +/- (with 12, 23 and +16 respectively). He clearly has been a dominant member of the Red Wings both offensively and defensively. He is clearly a driver of the Red Wings success and it is not clear how much Osgood is driving the success and how much he is a passenger along for the ride.

I said in this post that it would take an unlikely defensive final series for a goalie like Osgood to be considered for the Conn Smythe. Pittsburgh not scoring at all is an unlikely result. Nevertheless, I continue to pick Zetterberg as the playoff MVP.

If Osgood wins the Conn Smythe, he would be the most mediocre player to win it in the history of the trophy. What a shame. I hope they reward excellence instead of circumstance and give it to Zetterberg as well.
I would argue that Cam Ward is the most mediocre Conn Smythe winner so far - but he is young enough he could wind up having a better career than Osgood. So far, he hasn't.
I am still going with Zetterberg over Osgood...ultimately Pittsburgh will score a few goals but Zetts will save his best for last. But Osgood definitely has to be high up in consideration.
"If Osgood wins the Conn Smythe, he would be the most mediocre player to win it in the history of the trophy. What a shame." (Mojo tooth)
While I agree he would be one of the most if not THE most mediocre players to win the Conn Smythe trophy, it's awarded to the best player IN THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, regardless of what they may have done in their career, overall. I mean, if a 3rd line player got 18 goals in the playoffs to lead his team to the cup , would you take the Smythe away from him, simply because he had never been an elite player BEFORE? For that matter, is there any guarantee that a rookie who wins the CS will have a storied career from that time on? (Yes Roy did it, but, he's an exception) If not, do we take away the CS because he was an otherwise mediocre player?
( If so, Cam Ward may someday have to surrender a trophy he won while playing WAY above his normal talent level)ps. I don't care which Red Wing wins it, cause I hate the Wings!
I considered Cam Ward when I was typing in my previous comment about Osgood's mediocrity. But I seemed to recall that Ward actually seemed to have a pretty hot playoffs, and I didn't remember Carolina's team defense being as strangulating as the current Wings. I certainly wouldn't press the issue though.
Fair enough Mojo...But still, you have to admit, as good as the Wings defense has been,
Osgoode is there when they need him, and in goaltending, that's what really matters, especially in the playoffs. (Ken Dryden had Argueably the best defense in the history of the NHL, but, what made him great was that, when THEY made a mistake, HE generally didnt, especially in the BIG games)
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