Even though the drama dipped in the second round – save for Dallas-San Jose Game 6 – the quality of hockey has remained incredibly high.
As I did for Round 1, here are my picks for the standout players from the conference semifinals (based solely on second round play).
Most Valuable Player – Martin Biron, Philadelphia
Had Biron not stood on his head (and had the Habs received even a modicum of goaltending), it could be Montreal facing Pittsburgh in the conference final. But that didn’t happen and now the flightless birds should be worried the playoff rookie will continue to stand on his head. Honorable mentions: Marty Turco, Dallas; Brenden Morrow, Dallas
Best Player – Johan Franzen, Detroit
Nine goals in four games can’t be ignored, even if the Avalanche more closely resembled a slow thaw. The Mule, a late-bloomer at age 28, is an absolute steal at less than a million dollars per season. He’s already set the team record for goals in a playoffs, topping Petr Klima, Sergei Fedorov and Brett Hull’s 10. Honorable mentions: Biron, Philadelphia; Turco, Dallas
Best Goalie – Martin Biron, Philadelphia
Turco was phenomenal as well in defeating the Sharks in six games, but Biron gets the nod. Of all the moves GM Paul Holmgren made in ’07, picking up Biron from the Sabres for a second rounder then signing the Quebec native to a two-year deal may be the best of the bunch. Honorable mentions: Turco, Dallas; M-A Fleury, Pittsburgh
Best Defenseman – Sergei Zubov, Dallas
I’ve been saying for a long time Zubov is the most underrated top-end blueliner in the game and watching him control the action after returning from injury in Game 2 only solidified my position. The 37-year-old led all Stars in ice time in the Game 6 marathon with 53:50. Honorable mentions: Brian Campbell, San Jose; Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh
Top Rookie – Marc Staal, Rangers
My only award winner not advancing to the third round, the lanky 21-year-old was a steady, physical force against the Pens. Staal averaged more than 22 minutes per game and managed a plus-1 rating. The Thunder Bay native will be a stalwart for the Blueshirts for years to come. Honorable mentions: Brandon Dubinsky, Rangers; Nicklas Grossman, Dallas
WARM AND FUSSY
Looking for a new career? How about team mascot for the Washington Capitals?
And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always apply to be their new starting goalie, because they don’t have one of those, either.
THN.com’s Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog appears Thursdays.
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