Fleury or Osgood for Conn Smythe? Ummm…

Will another Stanley Cup rid Chris Osgood of his Rodney Dangerfield reputation? Will a first Stanley Cup get Marc-Andre Fleury invited to Team Canada’s Olympic squad in 2010? Hopefully the answer to each question is ‘yes’. Will one of these two accept the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP? Odds are that answer will be no, although each has played well enough to lay claim to it.

12 of the 42 Conn Smythe winners have been goalies, and in two cases (Ron Hextall in 1987 and Jean-Sebastien Giguere in 2003) came despite losing the finals. 1-in-4 odds aren’t bad but certaintly aren’t enough to simply bet on the best goalie in the finals. Each time the Conn Smythe has been won by a goalie its come from a dominating performance that simply couldn’t be ignored.

Cam Ward in his rookie season with the Hurricanes, Patrick Roy (the first time) in his rookie season with the Canadiens, Hextall in his seven-game loss to the Oilers and Bernie Parent carry the Broad Street Bullies. All were performances that dominated the press coverage of that year’s playoffs. Fleury and Osgood however are playing on great teams. Whenever a great team has won the Cup it’s typically not been a goalie who’s skated away with the hardware.

If you look at the Canadiens run of four Cups, followed by the Islanders four-in-a-row and the Oilers four-in-five years, only the Islanders’ Billy Smith won the Conn Smythe in 1980. You might be saying “what about Bill Ranford”? Ranford did indeed win the award with the Oilers but it was their fifth Cup in 1990 after Gretzky had left for LA and the Oilers were simply a good team led by a great goaltending performance.

So that leaves us with Fleury playing for a team led by scoring phenoms Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Osgood playing behind perenial Norris winner Nik Lidstrom. Crosby-Malkin are the new Gretzky-Messier and Lidstrom is the new Bobby Orr. Does that leave Fleury in the same skates as Grant Fuhr and Osgood in those of Gerry Cheevers?

Maybe. But as Patrick Roy would say to any of his detractors “I can’t hear you because I have two Stanley Cup rings plugged in my ears”. And that’s tough for anyone to ignore.

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2 Comments

  1. How about Ozzie now?

  2. @Kenny: I think Brodeur started w/ consecutive shutouts against the Ducks in ’03 and still didn’t walk away with the trophy. But it’s going to be hard for the writers to not vote for him.


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