The Professional Hockey Writers Association’s members love clutch goals. At least recently, that appears to be the driving force in so many of the Conn Smythe winners’ resumes, whenever those players are not goalies.
So Justin Williams has been given the award this year. Did he deserve it?
Here are the best players on the Kings this playoff by points:
- Anze Kopitar: 5G, 21A for 26P, +9
- Jeff Carter: 10G, 15A for 25P, +5
- Justin Williams: 9G, 16A for 25P, +13
- Marian Gaborik: 14G, 8A for 22P, +6
Now that looks reasonably fair: Williams scored the second most points and had the highest +/- of any King to score over 22 points (not that +/- means anything). So good job PHWA!
However, lets remember that hockey is about both scoring on and not being scored upon. And, while there is still some debate about how to quantify defense, one way we can quantify overall importance – remember, this is the Playoffs MVP award, not a scoring title – is via Average Time on ICE (ATOI). Think of it as a proxy for “Most important skater according to the Head Coach.”
Here are the best players on the Kings by ice time this playoff:
- Drew Doughty: 28:45 ATOI; 5G, 13A for 18P, +2
- Jake Muzzin: 23:24 ATOI; 6G, 6A for 12P, +6
- Slava Voynov: 23:08 ATOI; 2G, 7A for 9P, +4
- Kopitar: 21:13 ATOI
- Carter: 18:16 ATOI
- Gaborik: 17:46 ATOI
- Jarrett Stoll: 17:03 ATOI; 3G, 3A for 6P, +6
- Dustin Brown: 16:57 ATOI; 6G, 8A for 14P, +7
- Williams: 16:49 ATOI
- Alec Martinez: 16:37 ATOI; 5G, 5A for 10P, +1
- Mike Richards: 15:33 ATOI; 3G, 7A for 10 P, -6
- Willie Mitchell: 22:20 ATOI; 1G, 3A for 4P, +10 (in 18 games)
That’s all the players on the Kings to play at least 15 minutes per game while playing at least 400 minutes over the course of the four round playoff.
By ice time, Williams was barely a top 6 forward, though he was fortunate enough to score the second most points on the team. Moreover, Doughty played close to 30 minutes per game. Doughty actually was on the ice for 748 minutes. That’s 140 minutes more than Muzzin and 311 minutes more than Williams.
Now, even if you were determined to hand the award to a forward – and forwards almost always play less than defense – because this team is some supposed offensive juggernaut, Kopitar is the obvious choice, for both his offense and his strong defensive abilities (and his clear centrality to the Kings).
But I would like to implement a rule: whenever a D averages near to 30 minutes per game in the playoffs and the goalie sucks – as Quick has this year – that D should be the automatic choice for the Conn Smythe
If I had voted, Williams would have been my 4th or 5th choice. Let another disgraceful award botching by the PHWA.