BOSTON (AP) — The Stanley Cup finals are still very much up for grabs, but the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP is increasingly looking like a one-man race.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas looks like a sure thing if Boston can win Games 6 and 7.
But he also might be the favorite if the Bruins lose.
It's not unprecedented for a player on the losing team in the finals to be named playoff MVP. It's happened five times since the award was created in 1965 (four of them were goalies; Flyers right wing Reggie Leach was the other.) The last player to get his name on the Conn Smythe but not the Stanley Cup was Jean-Sebastien Giguere of Anaheim in 2003.
So far, there's no standout candidate from Vancouver.
Even with two shutouts, goalie Roberto Luongo probably killed his chances by giving up 12 goals in two games in Boston last week. Henrik Sedin has 21 points so far in the playoffs, but none of them in the finals. Ryan Kesler has 19 points so far and could be the choice with a game-winner tonight or Wednesday. Alex Burrows won Game 2 with an overtime goal, but will the image of him biting Patrice Bergeron hurt his chances?
That leaves Thomas, who's likely to win his second Vezina Trophy after a historic season and could be honored for the playoffs as well. He's only given up six goals in five games of the finals, with a save percentage of .965 that is the third best in finals history. In the playoffs he has three shutouts, a 2.07 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.
Of course, there's still at least one more game to play.
And the faceoff is minutes away.