Alex Burrows’s three-point performance in Saturday night’s game 2 victory over the Boston Bruins catapulted the sparkplug winger into the Conn Smythe trophy discussion. Burrows now has two overtime winners in these playoffs, both on fabulous individual efforts. Heroism of that sort tends to get one noticed. But is Burr capable of winning a Conn Smythe that, in the event of a Canucks’ Stanley Cup victory, has Ryan Kesler’s name all but engraved on it? And even if Kesler somehow falls off the map in the Final, aren’t Henrik Sedin, Roberto Luongo, and Kevin Bieksa deserving as well?
It’s a testament to the Canucks’ remarkable depth that they have so many players who could, reasonably, win the playoff MVP, but that same depth is what tends to relegate impact players like Burrows to the background. It’s a shame because, truth is, Burrows has a case. Here are five reasons Alex Burrows could go home with the Conn Smythe.
1 } Burrows won the Canucks a round
Burrows’s last three-point game in the postseason came in game six of Round 1, versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Prior to game six, Burr only had one point, a second assist on this Alex Edler goal. After being moved to the second line with Ryan Kesler prior to game six, a move Alain Vigneault uses semiregularly because it always seems to work, Burrows went off. For all the talk of Kesler’s foray into beast mode versus Nashville, Burrows did something similar in the first round: he singlehandedly dragged the Canucks out of their worst collapse in postseason history with a hand in every one of the five goals the Canucks scored over the final two games. Burrows scored three of those five goals himself, including both goals in the game seven overtime victory, one of which was arguably the greatest goal in Canucks history.
2 } Burr’s Versatility is Bonkers
Burrows’s nine goals are tied for top spot on the Canucks with Daniel Sedin, but they’re far and away the most interesting nine. Had Burrows scored on the penalty shot he was awarded in game 7 of round 1, he would have a goal in every feasible in-game scenario this postseason. Burr is the only player in the playoffs to have scored in the first, second, and third period, overtime, at even-strength, on the powerplay, shorthanded, and unassisted. Burrows is the epitome of the every-situation player, and arguably most versatile forward on the Canucks.
3 } Burr can do it on his own
Speaking of unassisted goals, Burrows has three in the postseason. People often think of Burrows as a pylon off of which the Sedins bank pucks, but he creates much of his own offense.
4 } Burr gobbles up icetime like it’s fingers
Burrows is averaging 21:15 of icetime per game, more than both Daniel and Henrik Sedin (although not combined, but why would you do that?). Burrows is the Canucks’ second most played forward, after Ryan Kesler, but he’s first in deployment. His 639 postseason shifts are tops on the team.
5 } Burr is the even-strength king
While Henrik Sedin leads the postseason in scoring with 21 points, Burrows, who isn’t on the top powerplay unit, actually has four more points at even-strength. Burrows has 15 points 5-on-5, tied for the top spot in the playoffs with Boston’s David Krejci. Henrik Sedin has 11, and no other Canuck has more than 10. Has Burrows been Vancouver’s best even-strength player? This stat says so.