The Penguins are currently up 2-1 on the Sharks, so unless the Sharks can win three out of four games, the Penguins will win their fourth Stanley Cup, sending the city of Pittsburgh into complete euphoria. One of the most debated topics after a championship is won in any sport is the MVP award, unless there’s a clear, undeniable choice. The Conn Smythe is handed out to the most valuable player of the PLAYOFFS, not just the Final. A few Penguins have made cases for themselves of being worthy of the award, but only one will get it.
I think the favorite among fans and media right now would be Phil Kessel, and rightfully so. He leads the team in points and has yet to even play a mediocre game in the playoffs. Even games where he may not have scored or gotten on the scoresheet (which is not often), he finds other ways to contribute. He’s been great. And if he wins the Conn Smythe, it won’t hurt my feelings. But let me tell you why I think Kessel shouldn’t win it: Sidney Crosby.
There’s two wins to go. And if Sid dominates in the rest of this Final, he could further strengthen my argument for why I think he’s the Penguins’ most valuable player in the playoffs. Does he lead the team in scoring? No. Goals? Nope. Assists? Surprisingly, no. Bonino does. The only thing forgotten here is that points don’t win you the MVP, in the regular season nor the playoffs. Sure, it helps your cause substantially, but there are certain intangibles that don’t go onto the scoresheet.
Crosby’s leadership is the primary reason I would give him the Conn Smythe. The biggest battle the Penguins have faced since their Cup-winning season in 2009 is, really, themselves and their lack of discipline. Case and point: the 2012 quarterfinal against Philly. And Crosby led the charge in lack of discipline. He did stupid things in between and after whistles. Fast forward to game two of this year’s Stanley Cup Final. Crosby pins Joe Thornton against the boards and Thornton goes on to knock Sid’s helmet off then crosscheck him. I believe the old Sid would retaliate in some fashion, but what does he do? Doesn’t even look at Thornton. Nor the ref. Just picks up his helmet and skates away. Attitude reflects leadership. Sid’s attitude has given this team a swagger that plays between the whistles, not after them (not taking anything away from Sully, he’s played a HUGE part in this).
Sid has done things that don’t go on the scoresheet, or at least they aren’t the sexy stats on the scoresheet. Sid wins faceoffs. Just ask Logan Couture. Sid wins puck battles in all three zones. He skates hard every shift. When he plays a certain way that isn’t working, he realizes it and adjusts it. He takes notes from his coaches and applies it to his game. He’s not caught up in who he is, thinking that he’ll play the way he wants to play and that it will be good enough. He puts the team before himself. That’s what TRUE leaders do. He’s the captain. All the other guys in that room are going to look to him, especially when they’re in a tough spot. And he’s answered the call every time. Whether by contributing by scoring (three GWG’s in the ECF), or by winning a faceoff so someone else can, Sid does what this team needs him to do: be the best player in the world. That’s why, Sid, you the real MVP.