As the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks prepare for their Stanley Cup battle, the race for who will be named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner is also heating up. How each team's top players perform in the championship series will go a long way to determining the winner.
So, who do you think will be named the playoff MVP?
Through three rounds, many players have thrust themselves into the forefront of the Conn Smythe discussion and this post-season it all starts with the goaltenders.
Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask has been the most consistent player for the Bruins in beating the Maple Leafs, Rangers, and Penguins. He leads the league in save percentage, highlighted by his performance in Boston's Conference Final sweep of Pittsburgh where he held the entire Penguins offence to just two goals in four games.
His performance has drawn raves from his coach, Claude Julien, who likens his performance thus far to his former crease-mate, 2011 Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas.
"A lot of Timmy's commitment and desire to be the best he could be every night has rubbed off on Tuukka," Julien said after the Bruins' Game 4 victory over Pittsburgh. "Tuukka's learned from that and right now he's in the zone that you hope he can hold on to because without that kind of goaltending you don't get a chance to win the Cup."
As much as Rask has been getting a great deal of credit for the Bruins' success, Blackhawks keeper Corey Crawford has quietly provided his own club with excellent goaltending.
He leads the league in goals-against-average and has held his own against formidable one-time Cup-winning opponents like Detroit's Jimmy Howard and Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick.
"He deserves all the credit in the world and then some," said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews after the team's Game 5 overtime victory to close out the Kings. "He's persevered and here he is playing the best hockey of his career and helping his team compete for a Stanley Cup.
"He's probably the most important player on our team right now," Toews added.
But it's not all on the goalies.
The Bruins are considered one of the better four-line teams in the playoffs but David Krejci has had no equal when it comes to providing offence for the Bruins. He leads the playoffs with nine goals and 21 points.
While the Blackhawks have leaned on the talents of Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell has arguably been their most consistent performer. Recently elevated to the top line with Toews and Kane, Bickell has provided a good balance of size, speed and finesse while scoring some clutch goals.
If the Bruins are to claim their second Stanley Cup title in three years, Zdeno Chara will be a key factor. He logs major minutes, anchors the power play, shuts down the opposition's best players and provides leadership in the dressing room. Not everything shows up on the stats sheet but his importance cannot be overlooked.
These are just a few of the leading candidates but other players could rise above the rest in the Stanley Cup Final to earn playoff MVP honours.
Who do you think will be named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy?
As always, it's Your! Call.