The Pittsburgh Penguins face the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals Thursday at Consol Energy Center.
At this point the Stanley Cup Finals has come to not if the Penguins will win the Stanley Cup, but when will they clinch it. The Sharks are deader than the great white at the end of Jaws. Though I would not be surprised if San Jose extents this series another game, my feelings are this series will end Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
That being said, which Penguin deserves to win the Conn Symthe Trophy? A handful of Pens could win the trophy including Sidney Crosby, who has played his tail off in the cup finals despite not recording a goal. In my view and the view of many, there are only two guys who can win it: winger Phil Kessel and goalie Matt Murray.
Kessel’s case is simple. When the big guns of Crosby and Malkin went silent for parts of these playoffs, the American stepped up in a big way to lead the Penguins in goals and points. Kessel is 1 of 3 players to register at least 10 goals, 10 assists and 90 shots on goal in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 2 other guys to do that, Detroit Red Wing winger Henrik Zetterberg in 2008 and Malkin in 2009, went on to win the Conn Symthe.
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Though Kessel’s numbers speak for themselves, the writers could be swayed to vote for the dazzling rookie netminder. Whenever the Penguins do clinch the cup, Murray will tie Patrick Roy and Cam Ward for the most wins by a rookie in Stanley Cup Playoff history (both won the Conn Symthe).
The rookie has been down right brilliant since taking over for Jeff Zatkoff in Game 3 of the Rangers series. Murray outdueled two of the best goalies in the NHL (Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby) and rebounded after being benched to lead the Penguins comeback effort against the Lightning. Despite letting a few cheap goals in this series, he has stonewalled and frustrated the high powered Sharks.
My pick for the Conn Symthe could be a bit bias since I bet a wager on Murray winning the Conn Symthe prior to the Tampa series. However, I feel Kessel will get the last laugh over his naysayers in Toronto and win the trophy.
Whether Kessel, Murray or another Penguin wins the Conn Symthe, the only thing that really matters is the Stanley Cup will finally return to Pittsburgh.