Evgeni Malkin Wins Conn Smythe Trophy
The Conn Smythe Trophy has been handed out since 1965. It's given to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In 2009, this was not an easy decision. There were plenty of viable candidates on both of the finalists, the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins. Though five players have won the Conn Smythe while playing for the team that lost the Finals, this was not a year for that to happen.
Evgeni Malkin led all players in scoring during the postseason, totaling 36 points on 14 goals and 22 assists. It's the most points picked up in the playoffs by anyone since Wayne Gretzky had 40 back in 1993. He had the primary assist on the first of two Maxime Talbot goals in Pittsburgh's Game 7 win Friday night.
Not only was Malkin a huge offensive force throughout the playoffs, but his two-way prowess went a long way in helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
It's said that lessons are learned through adversity, and Malkin is a prime example. He was practically invisible at times during last year's Finals loss to Detroit. He was a better player from the start of these playoffs as a result. By working hard in all three zones, Malkin was able to make game-saving plays in all three. He led the league in takeaways this season, then played the postseason as if he had to prove this was no fluke.
You could have argued in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby, and even Talbot, but Malkin was the best and most consistent Penguin throughout these playoffs, and he is a very deserving Conn Smythe winner.