BOSTON -- If the Vancouver Canucks can find a way to break the home-ice lock on this Stanley Cup Final series to win Game 6 Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) here at TD Garden, they will win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
But if a poll of NHL.com writers proves prophetic, they still will be waiting for the organization's first Conn Smythe winner.
While Vancouver has several viable MVP candidates, Boston goalie Tim Thomas appears to be the runaway leader to take home the hardware.
The five NHL.com writers that have covered the Final from its beginning each cast a non-binding vote Monday morning and Thomas was the name on four of the ballots. Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo earned the other vote.
NHL.com writers, however, are not involved in the official voting for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
If Thomas does win the Conn Smythe in a losing effort, he will be just the sixth player from a losing team to win the trophy.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks is the most recent player for a losing team to be honored, winning MVP honors in a seven-game loss to New Jersey in the 2003 Final.
The only non-goaltender to win the award in a losing cause is Philadelphia's Reggie Leach, who won it in 1976 when the Montreal Canadiens swept his Flyers.
Here are the NHL.com staff picks heading into Game 6:
Bob Condor – Tim Thomas
There have been long stretches in this Final when there seems to be no possibility to score on Thomas. That's against a team that led the NHL in scoring this season. Thomas' defensemen have been effective (Exhibit A is Henrik Sedin's four shots on goal in five games), but Thomas has so many dazzling, impossible, how-did-he-do-that saves that even the staunchest Bruins fans have lost count. The only way Roberto Luongo wins the Conn Smythe? A third shutout, but this one in Boston.
Dave Lozo – Tim Thomas
He's the League leader in goals-against average and save percentage in these playoffs and he's been even better during the Stanley Cup Final. Entering Game 6, he had allowed six goals in five games. In the Bruins' three losses to the Canucks, Thomas has given up five goals. He's the biggest reason the Bruins have gotten this far and no one has been more valuable to their team during the playoffs than Thomas has been to Boston.
Corey Masisak – Tim Thomas
Thomas easily has been the MVP for the Bruins during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he's been the best player on the ice during the Stanley Cup Final. His save percentage is among the best in League history among goaltenders who reached the Final, and the Bruins' huge advantage in net is the biggest reason this was not a short series. He has earned the Conn Smythe, plus no player from Vancouver stands out as a deserving candidate, unless Ryan Kesler or Daniel Sedin has a monster night during Game 6.
Shawn Roarke – Tim Thomas
The numbers are amazing, but it is about so much more than stats for Thomas. His unwillingness to be rattled and his willingness to make a save in any manner possible have given this Bruins team a swagger that they would not otherwise possess. Several times this postseason, the Bruins have looked into the abyss of their season ending. Each time, Thomas has come up with a series-changing save. The 2-on-1 save against Montreal’s Brian Gionta in Game 7 of the first round and his save on Teddy Purcell in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals immediately jump to mind as examples. In the Final, he has been the best player on the ice in four of the first five games. To me, those are MVP credentials.
Dan Rosen – Roberto Luongo
This is not a trophy that goes to the MVP of the Final; it goes to the MVP of the entire playoffs. Luongo has had some forgettable nights (who hasn't?), but on many he has been the difference between Vancouver winning and losing. People want to talk about his two bad games in Boston, but what about his two shutouts against the Bruins in Vancouver? He's 3-2 in the Final and has received six goals for support. People want to talk about how bad he was in Games 4 and 5 against Chicago in the first round, but what about the way he came back in Game 7 with 31 saves in a 2-1 overtime win? Luongo has had four stinkers, but he also has four shutouts and has allowed two or fewer goals in 13 of his 15 wins. The Canucks are not here without him. They're not even close.