'P' stands for ...

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- With five minutes to play in Game 5 and the game headed to overtime, the Conn Smythe ballots were collected.

Cam Ward and Rod Brind'Amour were listed on a great majority of them.

In Game 6, because of the 4-0 score, there was no need to collect them.

They'll be distributed again here tonight.

But now there are Edmonton Oilers in play.

If the Oilers win the Cup, should there be any debate?

Would Fernando Pisani become a candidate? Or would Chris Pronger be a no-brainer?

"You know what? He certainly would deserve it," said Pronger of Pisani, the Edmonton native who scored 18 goals in the regular season and has scored 13 in the playoffs, including five winners.

SCORING BIG GOALS

"He hasn't just scored goals. They've been big goals. He scored a big, big goal in the Detroit series. He scored the first goal and then the winner in overtime in Game 5. Scored the winner again in Game 6. Look at the goals he's scored. They've been big goals," said Pronger.

So vote Pisani?

Oilers coach Craig MacTavish says if his team wins it - and maybe even if not - Chris Pronger has been the best player he's seen in these playoffs.

"They'd probably disagree with me, but I think we have had the best player through four series.

"I feel like Pronger is the guy. But, I mean, there is an argument for Fernando.

"First you have to win the game, and that's a big part of it obviously, to win the game. And there are still questions to be answered in the game.

"But, for me, going into Game 7, I think Chris Pronger has been the best player in each of the series that he has played in."

Five players have won the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player in the playoffs since 1965, when playing for teams that lose.

Roger Crozier of Detroit won it in 1966, Glenn Hall with St. Louis in 1968, Reggie Leach with Philadelphia in 1976, Ron Hextall with Philadelphia (against Edmonton) in 1987 and Jean-Sebastien Giguere with Anaheim in 2003.

Goaltenders have won 13 of them, including three by Patrick Roy, two by Bernie Parent and one each by Crozier, Hall, Hextall, Giguere, Ken Dryden, Billy Smith, Bill Ranford and Mike Vernon.

CENTRE OF ATTENTION

Centres have won a dozen, led by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux with two each. Jean Beliveau, Butch Goring, Dave Keon, Joe Nieuwendyk, Brad Richards, Joe Sakic, Bryan Trottier and Steve Yzerman won the others.

Eight went to defencemen with Bobby Orr winning two and the others going to Brian Leetch, Al MacInnis, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, Scott Stevens and Niklas Lidstrom.

Five right wingers have won - Mike Bossy, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lafleur, Claude Lemieux and Leach.

Only two left wingers have won the Conn Smythe - Mark Messier and Bob Gainey.


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