The Conn Smythe Trophy can't be won halfway through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but MVP-type performances go a long way in determining which teams are still competing for the Stanley Cup.
The Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks are still alive in the playoffs because of total team efforts, great comebacks, Game 7 wins on the road and spellbinding individual performances from several star players.
With two rounds in the books, here are five players in contention for the Conn Smythe Trophy:
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
Often the forgotten player on a team filled with stars, Crawford is arguably the biggest reason why the Blackhawks dispatched the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild each in six games.
Crawford leads all goalies in the playoffs with a 1.97 goals-against average, and he's tied with Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers with a League-best .931 save percentage.
He gave up two goals on 63 total shots in Games 5 and 6 against the Wild. After giving up a combined eight goals in back-to-back losses to the Blues to start the playoffs, Crawford won six straight games, allowing nine goals on 183 shots for a .950 save percentage.
Crawford has stopped 276 of 294 shots (.938 save percentage) in 10 games since he challenged himself to be better following a loss in Game 2 to the Blues.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Kopitar leads the NHL with 19 points on five goals and 14 assists through 14 games, and he's centering arguably the best line going in the playoffs through two rounds.
Marian Gaborik, the right wing on Kopitar's line, leads the NHL with nine goals and is second on the Kings with 15 points. Kopitar has assisted on six of Gaborik's goals. Left wing Dustin Brown has played a hard game and has six points, including two empty-net goals.
Kopitar is the engine that makes the Kings go. He has been held off the scoresheet in just one game, and has been at his best in L.A.'s five elimination games with five goals and four assists, including four points in two Game 7s.
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Lundqvist is second behind Crawford in goals-against average (1.99) and tied for first in save percentage (.931). He has played in two more games than the Blackhawks goalie and was easily the Rangers' MVP in their come-from-behind series win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
New York rallied from a 3-1 deficit because Lundqvist allowed only three goals on 105 shots in the final three games, including 36 saves in Game 6 and 35 saves in Game 7.
Lundqvist is 4-0 with a .969 save percentage and 1.00 goals-against average in elimination games this postseason. He has allowed three or more goals in just three of his 14 starts.
P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens
Subban was a factor even though he was held off the scoresheet in the final two games of the Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Boston Bruins. He drove the Canadiens' offense and power play from the back end despite not scoring.
What he did in his first nine games of the playoffs is why he makes this list.
Subban leads all defensemen with 12 playoff points, including four goals and three assists in the first five games against Boston. He also had five assists in the final three games of Montreal's first-round sweep against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He has been particularly dominant on Montreal's power play, which is clicking at 26.3 percent in the playoffs in part because of his League-high seven power-play points.
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
After struggling to score in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Toews has been a big-goal player this year. He leads the League with four game-winning goals, including three in the first round against the Blues. He also scored the winner in Game 5 against Minnesota.
Toews has five goals and five assists in 12 games. He also leads Blackhawks forwards in ice time (22:11 per game) and has played a big role in their League-best penalty kill (91.3 percent).
Honorable mention: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens; Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings; Marian Gaborik, Los Angeles Kings: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks; Brad Richards, New York Rangers.
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