Published On: Thu, Apr 26th, 2018

Fleury's still the playoff MVP until further notice

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There’s still a long way to go in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but several players have begun to state their respective cases in the hunt for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

From veteran household names to a budding young star, here are the players who’ve been most valuable to their teams in the postseason so far:

5. Nikita Kucherov

Like some of his Conn Smythe competition, Kucherov averaged a goal per game (and two points per contest) in his first-round series as the Tampa Bay Lightning dispatched the New Jersey Devils in five.

Kucherov’s contributions have been clutch, as three of his five goals were eventual game-winners, including the go-ahead marker in Game 4 that came after he set up the tying goal, and which was then followed by a Kucherov insurance marker.

The dynamic forward was in the Hart Trophy conversation for much of the regular season, and he’s continued to thrive in the playoffs, helping the Lightning make quick work of the Devils.

4. Martin Jones

If not for the goaltender he’s about to face (more on him later), Jones might be a Conn Smythe front-runner, but he certainly deserves to be in the discussion.

The San Jose Sharks netminder has been stellar so far in the postseason, allowing only four goals combined in the club’s first-round sweep of the Anaheim Ducks.

Jones was ranked fifth in our first edition of these rankings last week, and then he went out and stopped 30-of-31 shots in the Sharks’ series-clinching victory in Game 4.

3. David Pastrnak

Sure, the 21-year-old Boston Bruins forward cooled off after his hat trick and six-point performance in Game 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, notching a pair of assists in Game 4 but being held pointless in three of the next four games.

However, Pastrnak busted out of his mini-funk and provided the dagger in Game 7, showing great patience and then burying one to give the Bruins a 6-4 lead with about eight minutes left in the third period.

It was a timely goal that all but put away the Leafs, and it punctuated what was a tremendous series on the whole for the immensely talented young winger.

2. Sidney Crosby

Crosby is tied with Pastrnak and Jake Guentzel for the points lead so far this postseason, but unlike his Pittsburgh Penguins teammate, the captain’s 2018 playoff prowess hasn’t been essentially limited to one incredible game.

Yes, they both racked up six goals and 13 points in the Penguins’ six-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers, and while Guentzel’s four-goal, five-point eruption in Game 6 was impressive, Crosby was productive all series long with goals in four of the six games, a hat trick in Game 1, and four multi-point efforts.

Here’s a look at Sid’s series:

Game G A P
1 3 0 3
2 0 0 0
3 1 3 4
4 1 1 2
5 0 1 1
6 1 2 3

The two-time reigning Conn Smythe winner is off to a roaring start in his quest for a third – and in pursuit of a fourth Stanley Cup championship.

1. Marc-Andre Fleury

The Vegas Golden Knights haven’t played a game since our first edition of the rankings, but the face of the franchise still has the best save percentage and goals-against average of any goalie in the playoffs.

He’ll be the front-runner until he falters.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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