A lot of the drama of the Stanley Cup final went out the window with the New York Rangers (realistic) hopes in the series on Monday night.
So much so that, in the press box late in Game 3, the conversation turned to which member of the Los Angeles Kings deserves to be the MVP of the playoffs.
It’s not an easy question because most of the favourites coming into the final have been relatively quiet on the scoresheet.
Here were the betting odds on the Conn Smythe after Round 3:
Henrik Lundqvist: 5/2
Anze Kopitar: 4/1
Drew Doughty: 4/1
Jonathan Quick: 11/2
Martin St Louis: 7/1
Marian Gaborik: 7/1
Jeff Carter: 8/1
Derek Stepan: 30/1
Justin Williams: 30/1
Brad Richards: 30/1
Ryan McDonagh: 30/1
Rick Nash: 50/1
Mike Richards: 50/1
Dustin Brown: 50/1
Tyler Toffoli: 50/1
Safe to say we can rule out Rick Nash.
The rest of his Rangers teammates don’t have much of a shot either. Which leaves us with Kopitar, Doughty, Quick, Carter and Williams as the Kings top performers entering the final.
It’s been a collective effort in this round, but a few things stand out. Williams leads all players by a large margin with six points in three games, and a big final game (or two if it goes back to LA) could be what puts him over the top.
You could also make a case for Quick as the Kings best player in this round, as he helped steal Game 3 and has a .938 save percentage overall.
But his play has been so all over the place in general this postseason that that should effectively rule him out, and the fact he won two years ago likely hurts his candidacy with voters anyway.
Doughty was my choice prior to the final, but he’s been exceptionally quiet, with just one goal despite playing more than 30 minutes a game.
That leaves it as pretty much a dead heat between Kopitar, Williams and Doughty, with a good game here on Wednesday by any of them likely enough to change people’s minds. Carter could even factor in, too.
The voters will be some of the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in the building when the Cup is given out, with the voting likely to take place early in the third period.
It sounds silly, but early heroics could matter more.
My preference at this point would be to give it to Doughty, who’s had a spectacular year and deserves more individual accolades than he’ll get. He wasn’t nominated for the Norris Trophy due to his low point totals, and he’s got 17 in 24 playoff games, one of the highest totals by a blueliner in the last 20 years.
That should be enough – although here’s betting it’s a close call no matter what.