Conn Smythe Watch: Pekka Rinne rallies in MVP race

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne rocketed back up the Conn Smythe rankings thanks to two strong games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, as we whittle down the Top 10 to about seven players who could win the MVP award for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here’s how we see the field. Please keep in mind that for the Conn Smythe Watch, we weigh candidates more if their teams appear headed for advancement. Also keep in mind that we’re ranking these players with the Professional Hockey Writers Association’s potential voting favorites in mind. The previous ranking for the players is listed as well.

7 – P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators (9)

Subban has been brilliant in helping to shut down Evgeni Malkin, along with partner Mattias Ekholm. He’s also been a Grade-A troll in the Stanley Cup Final, and it’s always possible that the writers label that as some level of leadership. He has 12 points in 20 games.

6 – Matt Murray/Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins (NR/10) 

Murray is starting Game 5, which means there’s still a chance for him to reclaim his postseason game and close out this series. But of course, he wasn’t there for the first two-plus rounds of the playoffs – Fleury was practically the reason the Penguins advanced in each.

So the idea was floated: What if they BOTH won the Conn Smythe? And it was floated to the point where the Professional Hockey Writers Association had to address it:

As the question has arisen about voting for more than one player in Conn Smythe ballots — specifically, Pittsburgh goalies Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury as an “entry” — we reached out to the NHL for clarification.

 “League voting protocol stipulates that only one name be included in each voting position. i.e. 1 – Smith. 2 – Jones. 3 – Johnson. 

“Any ballot that lists more than one name in a voting “position” will be considered a spoiled ballot. Two players CAN share the Conn Smythe Trophy, or any other Award, but only if they are tied in voting after the above protocol has been adhered to.”

Glad that was put to bed. We think.

Of course, there’s still always a chance that Fleury returns to the series and closes it out, which would be … a rather MVP moment.

5 – Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators (5) 

His empty netter was in Game 4 was his first point of the series. He’s still leading the Preds with 16 points in 20 games, but obviously there’s someone way ahead of him in line for the Conn Smythe.

4 – Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins (4)

He has 13 goals and five game-winners in the playoffs, along with the chance to be the latest “rookie wins Conn Smythe” narrative.

3 – Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (6)

He went ice cold in Nashville, but has been an absolute monster at home in these playoffs. With 26 points in 23 games, he leads the playoffs, but will need a strong finish to clinch the Conn.

2 – Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (2)

Again, he’s not leading in points or goals, but he’s leading. He was the best Penguin in their Game 4 loss, and has scored in three of the four games in this series. He has 24 points in 22 games.

1 – Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators (3)

After two troublesome games in Pittsburgh, Rinne slammed the door back in Nashville, giving up two goals in two games. His three-save sequence in Game 4 was the kind of moments that MVPs have. If the Predators win, the Conn Smythe is his, without question.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS