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Maple Leafs Conn Smythe watch: Game one

Tracking the Maple Leafs MVP game by game.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game One Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Every year a trophy that is made to look like Maple Leafs Gardens is handed out to the NHL Playoffs MVP. Every sport has an MVP award for the playoffs, and ironically the NHL’s is named in honour of a former Maple Leafs owner and is a model of the Leafs arena. See, the Leafs are never in a position to win it, and have only won it once since it was first given out in 1965 because, well, you know.

Sometimes the right person wins it, other times it goes to someone who is nicer to the voters (Phil Kessel was robbed in 2018). During the Leafs playoff run I'll run down a list of the possible MVPs for the Leafs, and one player who is the opposite of the MVP. It's light reasoning to start since we only have one game but you have to start somewhere.

So, after game one the Maple Leafs are up 1-0 in their first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, winning 5-0. A great game, a tough standard to keep up that's been set for the playoffs.

Conn Smythe nominees:

Mitch Marner had one goal and two assists in game one, making up for a lackluster performance last year. He set up Auston Matthews and David Kämpf for goals and scored the fourth goal of the game himself. He was on top of his game all night. Excellent performance.

Auston Matthews also had three points, but scored twice and assisted on Marner’s goal. Another player making up for last season, Matthews Didn’t skip a beat from his play over the regular season, and at this rate will have a combined 80+ goals from the season and playoffs.

Can a concept win an award? The Maple Leafs Penalty Kill was one of the biggest offensive forces of the game. They killed off five power play opportunities for the Lightning, including a huge 5 minute major early in the game, and had more scoring chances than the Lighting power play did. With all of the penalties being handed out, turning the man advantage into a disadvantage is huge.

Honorable Mentions: The fans that bring the passion, William Nylander, David Kämpf, almost everyone on the team.

Who is your Conn Smythe leader so far?

Poll

Who is your Conn Smythe winner after game one?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Mitch Marner
    (153 votes)
  • 28%
    Auston Matthews
    (123 votes)
  • 33%
    The Penalty Kill
    (145 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (Add in comments)
    (14 votes)
435 votes total Vote Now

Now, the bad news. Not every player can be selfless and honourable. Not everyone can score goals and set up plays. Sometimes mistakes get made that put the Leafs in the corner, or silly penalties get taken. This is your Non-Smythe nominee for the Maple Leafs.

Non-Smythe nominee:

In such a great game it’s hard to pick one, but it’s Kyle Clifford. It’s not unusual to see #43 of the Maple Leafs get ejected from a playoff game, but you don’t want to see it. Early on in the game it worried everyone to see a major get handed out, and the Leafs go down to 11 forwards.

It all worked out in the end, but Kyle, you’re our Non-Smythe nominee after game one.

So, who gets your Non-Smythe vote? Tell us in the comments.

Will anyone unseat Matthews or Marner after game two? Will we end up giving the trophy to the eight players who regularly make up the penalty kill? Will Jason Spezza see the ice and make sure he gets into the conversation?

We’ll find out tomorrow night in game two.