The Chicago Blackhawks finished off an upset of the Edmonton Oilers Friday with a 3-2 win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs qualifying round, punching their ticket into the postseason for the first time in three years.
During the series, a slew of Blackhawks players stepped up in a big way for the squad as they knocked off a vaunted Oilers squad loaded with talented players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and many can potentially lay claim to being the team’s most valuable player in the series.
With that in mind, here are the four players that made the best case to earn that award:
The defenseman has always been a big-time playoff performer, but he was as good as advertised in this series, with four assists and a team-leading 25:35 average time on ice over the four-game series.
In spite of routinely drawing some of the toughest assignments each night, Keith posted a 49.2% Corsi rating in the series, and was on the ice for 62 shot attempts, the most on the team during the series.
The Blackhawks’ defense was active on the offensive side of the ice throughout the series, and one of the driving forces in that regard was Koekkoek. Despite starting as a third-pairing blue liner, Koekkoek still managed to score a goal and add two assists during the series, while posting a team-high plus-4 rating.
Against a tough Edmonton squad, Koekkoek showcased his speed and offensive acumen routinely, and acquitted himself well on the defensive side of things too, with a 50% Fenwick rating in the series.
The Calder Trophy nominee was a dominant force for the Blackhawks in Game 1 of the series, with two goals and three assists in the 6-4 triumph over the Oilers. He was held off the scoresheet in the next two games, with just two shots on goal to his credit, but he rebounded nicely in Game 4, scoring the game-winning goal in the third period of Friday’s contest.
The Blackhawks’ captain was a monster on both ends of the ice during the series, frequently deploying to stop McDavid and leading the Blackhawks in scoring during the qualifying round.
In all, Toews racked up four goals, including the game-winning tally in Game 3 of the series, and three assists.
And The Award Goes To…….
In the end, the MVP race is likely a two-way one, with Keith giving Toews all he can handle, but in the end we’re giving it to the Blackhawks’ captain. His contributions on both ends of the ice cannot be overstated, and he was incredibly effective in crunch time, as was evidenced by the puck battle he won in the late stages of Game 4 to win the puck and to feed it to Kubalik for what proved to be the series-winner.
Toews is moving up the Blackhawks’ all-time playoff rankings in terms of games played and points, and it’s easy to argue that he is one of the best centers in the history of the franchise.