The Conn Smythe Watch is our way of using an objective metric -- Hockey Prospectus' GVT -- to determine the most valuable player in the playoffs. And it seems to be a good method, considering GVT has correctly predicted the last two Conn Smythe winners, Jonathan Toews in 2010 and Tim Thomas in 2011.
Like last season, the winner seems fairly clear in 2012. And as the Los Angeles Kings stand on the cusp of becoming one of the best playoff teams in recent history, the biggest contributor to that success is clear.
In outscoring their opponents 49-24 thus far, the Kings' sensational run was spurred from the net out. The Kings have outshot their opponents 538-478, but they never would have been as dominant had Jonathan Quick not stopped 95 percent of the shots he faced through Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, easily outdueling the goaltender with the best regular season statistics (Brian Elliott), the playoffs' biggest hero (Mike Smith) and a living legend (Martin Brodeur) along the way .
If the Kings raise the Cup Wednesday night, the triumph will be a team win in every way, but that win will be owed to Quick more than anyone else. Here is how the other contenders stack up:
These rankings are through June 5.
OGVT: Offensive GVT
GGVT: Goaltending GVT
DGVT: Defensive GVT
GVT: Total GVT
Rank Player OGVT/GGVT DGVT GVT
1. Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings 12.5 0.0 12.5
Comment: Quick has not been a one-man show; he's gotten solid support from his teammates. But he has been the key man on a phenomenal run, and his superhuman 1.36 GAA and .950 save percentage mean he is the MVP of the most dominant playoff team in recent history.
2. Anze Kopitar, F, Los Angeles Kings 5.5 1.5 7.0
Comment: Kopitar is the Kings' leader in goals, points, shots and plus/minus, and leads Kings forwards in even-strength ice time and special teams ice time.
3. Dustin Brown, F, Los Angeles Kings 4.9 1.5 6.4
Comment: The heart and soul of the Kings; while Brown's offensive numbers have cooled down in the Final, he remains the team's leader in game-winning goals.
4. Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings 3.9 1.3 5.2
Comment: Doughty leads his team with 26:10 of ice time per game, and his play seemed to improve with every round. He also leads playoff defensemen in goals, assists, points and plus/minus.
5. Ilya Kovalchuk, F, New Jersey Devils 4.5 -0.7 3.8
Comment: Kovalchuk's offense was superb in the first three rounds (18 points in 17 games), and he remains the most potent offensive force on either Cup Final team. But like the rest of the Devils, he has been stymied by Quick and the Kings' defense.
6. Bryce Salvador, D, New Jersey Devils 2.5 1.0 3.5
Comment: Salvador actually scored more points (11) in 21 playoff games than in 82 regular-season games, but he has also been the team's defensive rock, leading all Devils in even-strength ice time and penalty-killing ice time.
7. Justin Williams, F, Los Angeles Kings 2.9 0.5 3.4
Comment: Williams is a one-dimensional player. He doesn't hit and doesn't kill penalties. He plays only offense, but he plays it well. Completing the Kings' first line with Kopitar and Brown has made him the team's third-leading scorer with 14 points.
8. Mike Richards, F, Los Angeles Kings 2.3 0.0 2.3
Comment: Despite Kopitar's excellence, Richards has the most special teams ice time of any Kings forward, playing an average of 6:20 a game in man-advantage situations.
9. Jeff Carter, F, Los Angeles Kings 2.3 -0.2 2.1
Comment: Few people's reputations have been rehabilitated as thoroughly in the last few weeks as Carter's. Only Kovalchuk has scored more power-play goals than Carter's three.
10. Zach Parise, F, New Jersey Devils 2.7 -0.8 1.9
Comment: If these were Parise's last weeks as a Devil, he certainly made the most of them. Always a prolific shooter, Parise leads the playoffs with 79 shots on goal.
A version of this story originally appeared at ESPN Insider .
Tom Awad is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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