Murray's style is so calm and controlled that he's unlikely to create the sort of highlights that stick with voters. Still, any hope that the Pens have of winning this series will require a superlative effort from the rookie netminder. He's just one signature moment away from leaping into serious contention.
2 of 10Al Tielemans
9. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
Geno's had a relatively quiet playoffs, but still ranks second on the Penguins with 11 assists and third with 15 points in 17 games. He enters the Final on a five-game scoring streak, and has been a dominant possession player, trailing only teammate Chris Kunitz among all forwards.
3 of 10Al Tielemans
8. Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins
It's going to take a superb defensive effort for the Pens to get past the Sharks in this series, and that means slowing down the Pavelski-Thornton-Hertl line. Letang is the Penguins' most important asset on the defensive end. He's played in all situations and takes on top competition while eating up an average of 28:46 minutes per game—second in the postseason among players who suited up for at least 10 contests.
4 of 10David E. Klutho
7. Martin Jones, G, San Jose Sharks
Sharks coach Pete DeBoer has gone all-in on Jones, playing him for all but 29 minutes of San Jose's first 18 games. The rookie has responded with a solid 12-6 record, along with a 2.12 GAA and a .919 save percentage. He delivered shutouts in series-clinching wins over the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators and almost did the same to the Blues until a pair of late (and meaningless) goals Vladimir Tarasenko broke his streak. That kind of clutch will stand out in the Final.
5 of 10David E. Klutho
6. Joe Thornton, C, San Jose Sharks
Making his first appearance in the Final after 18 seasons, Jumbo's sure to have a sentimental edge with the voters. Not that he'll need it. He's coming off a solid series against the Blues, with seven assists in six contests to maintain his point-per game average for the playoffs (3-15-18 in 18 games). He seems to be feeling the moment and could be on the verge of a huge showcase performance.
6 of 10Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
5. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
Maybe he's no longer the best player in the world, but for all the grief he took midway through the Lightning series, Sid's played some pretty solid hockey in these playoffs. He was at his best in the two elimination games against the Bolts, scoring on a jaw-dropping partial breakaway to win Game 6 and then playing a relentless two-way game in the clincher. At 29, he knows he might never get another chance like this. Watch him rise to the occasion.
7 of 10David E. Klutho
4. Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks
He's the one guy on the ice who can be doing absolutely nothing...and yet you can't take your eyes off him. But Burns isn't out there hoarding style points. He's been a beast on the back end, leading all defenders in goals (6), assists (14) and points (20), while bringing the hammer down in his own end. When he's got his feet moving, both he, and the Sharks, are unbeatable.
8 of 10Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
3. Phil Kessel, RW, Pittsburgh Penguins
Kessel has been Pittsburgh's most consistent offensive performer through the first three rounds. He was at his best in the conference final, scoring in four of the seven games and peppering the Lightning with 30 shots on net. He enters the Final with a team-high nine goals and 18 points, seven more than his previous playoff high.
9 of 10Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
2. Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks
All you poolies saw this coming, right? Couture leads the league in assists (16), points (24) and power play points (11) and is second in power play goals with four. Going up against Pittsburgh's second-string D, he could run away with the scoring race, but keep an eye on his defensive game as well. Couture has been San Jose's most effective backchecking forward, earning 16 takeaways and creating countless turnovers.
10 of 10Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images
1. Joe Pavelski, C, San Jose Sharks
The NHL's most underrated player is finally having his moment. Pavelski has been the NHL's most dangerous player for the past two moments, scoring at will and tearing down giants. He leads the league with 13 goals, four of which were game winners, and sits second with 22 points. And Pavelski's banking those numbers while playing some solid defense. If any one player takes over the Final, it'll be him.
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