Conn Smythe Watch: Rinne, Karlsson lead MVP race

Our last Conn Smythe Watch had Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators leading the field for Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP.

Is he still the top choice as we head into the conference finals?

Here’s how we see the field through the first two rounds. Please keep in mind that for the Conn Smythe Watch, we weigh candidates more if their teams appear headed for advancement. Also keep in mind that we’re ranking these players with the Professional Hockey Writers Association’s potential voting favorites in mind.

Here are the top 10, as we see them now:

10 – Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators

He has three goals and five helpers on the team’s most effective line, and has one huge moment (Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks) on his clip reel. (Last Rank: 8)

9 – Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Currently taking a back seat to a couple of teammates, but he has four goals and 10 assists in 11 games, including a helper on the first goal of Game 7 against the Capitals. If he’s healthy, he’s building a Conn Smythe case. (Last Rank: NR)

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8 – Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators

This dude’s stat line reads like a glitch from NHL 97’s “simulate a season” mode: Seven goals, zero assists. He scored six of them in the last six games against the Rangers. (Last Rank: NR)

7 – Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks

He’s playing a vital defensive role for the Ducks and putting up strong offensive numbers: seven goals, four assists. (Last Rank: 10)

6 – Ryan Ellis, Nashville Predators

What else can you say about the man with a tremendous beard and even more tremendous offensive stats: four goals and five assists, second only to another player on this countdown for points by a defenseman? (Last Rank: NR)

5 – Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Didn’t really make an impact towards the end of the Capitals’ series, but his 18 points in 12 games leads the playoffs. Both he and Sidney Crosby are previous Conn Smythe winners. But again, he’s taking a back seat for … (Last Rank: 5)

4 – Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

Fleury has a .927 save percentage and basically knocked out the Capitals on his own. A shutout in Game 7 is a pretty significant calling card for the Conn Smythe. Can he keep it up in Round 3? (Last Rank: 2)

3 – Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

The vein on his head is scary. Even scarier: 15 points in 11 games for the Ducks, including eight goals. There are times when it feels like he’s willing his team to victory. (Last Rank: NR)

2 – Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

It’s been an extraordinary postseason for Pekka Rinne. He has a .951 save percentage and a 1.37 goals-against average, and has been the backbone of two series victories for the Preds. (Last Rank: 1)

1 – Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

The consensus leader among Puck Daddy staffers, Karlsson has 13 points in 12 games and both of his goals have been game-winners. He’s skating 28:56 per game, playing stellar two-way hockey and doing it all on a fractured foot. If he’s not on the Senators, they’re in the lottery. (Last Rank: 7)

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.