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FISCHLER: Conn Smythe for Giguere is travesty

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The Professional Hockey Writers' Association has made a mistake. A BIG mistake. An egregious error, if you will. Late in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals, the (print) journalists voted for the most valuable player of all the playoffs. Instead of choosing a winner, the reporters selected Anaheim goaltender, . No question, the French-Canadian netminder played nobly for the Orange County sextet — until the game that counted most, the finale. Not only that, Giguere enjoyed three consecutive superior performances in the first three rounds but he significantly faltered in the round that mattered most, the finals. It was Giguere's mediocre play in Games 1 and 2 in New Jersey which allowed the to take a meaningful 2-0 series lead while his opposite, posted a pair of shutouts. There's no law against losing players (goalies) winning the Smythe. Ron Hextall did it for the in 1987 and Roger Crozier for the in 1966, to name a couple. But each of those — and I covered both series — were aberrations. Before going further, let's examine precisely what the NHL defines for the Smythe winner. An annual award to the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs. Winner selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the conclusion of the final game in the Stanley Cup finals. The winner receives $10,000. Here's why Brodeur — and not Giguere — deserved the Smythe. The key word is valuable. Here's how the Merrian-Webster Dictionary defines "valuable."
valuable (adj): of great use or service; invaluable, priceless, costly, expensive, dear, precious. Brodeur, flaws notwithstanding, was more valuable more times over the four playoff series than Giguere. Assuming that Brodeur and Giguere were equally precious over three series, we then come to the finals, when value counts most. Giguere was mediocre in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. He also was a bit too cocky for his own good; dissing Brodeur when the series originally shifted to Anaheim. Playing with multiple — but hidden — injuries to his groin and knee, which hampered his style, Brodeur nevertheless mucked through and delivered more often when it counted most. In some ways the credit was top-heavy in Anaheim. As good as Giguere was, the had other stars as well. How about , , , , to name a few? But that's a lesser point. What matters is that Brodeur pitched three shutouts in seven games of the finals. Plus, his stickhandling skills — never factored into his MVP credentials — add into his hard-work minutes, giving him a still further edge over Giguere. Bottom Line 1: The wouldn't have gone to Game 7 of the finals without . Bottom Line 2: The wouldn't have won the Stanley Cup without coming through when it counted most over four series. Bottom Line 3: New Jersey wouldn't have won the championship without Brodeur out-goaling Giguere in Game 7 by a clear-cut three goals to none. Final Bottom Line: Giguere winning the Conn Smythe is a feel-good story that the writers fell for, hook, line and stinker, but the genuine winner should have been . Known as "The Hockey Maven" in both local and national circles, Stan Fischler is one of the most outspoken authorities on the game of hockey. Fischler can be seen offering NHL analysis on "MSG SportsDesk" and on Fox Sports Net's "Regional Sports Report — New York Edition." Fischler also provides studio interviews and pre- and post-game features and reports for both the and on FSN. His columns appear regularly on MSGNetwork.com.
Tagged: Red Wings, Devils, Islanders, Flyers, Ducks, Martin Brodeur, Petr Sykora, Paul Kariya, Keith Carney, Jean-Sebastien Giguere

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