Jeremy Roenick chooses his top Conn Smythe candidates

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Jeremy Roenick chooses his top Conn Smythe candidates

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick is taking an early stab at choosing his top Conn Smythe candidates from the four remaining playoff teams.

Here's a look at JR's choices:

Coyotes: Mike Smith
Kings: Jonathan Quick (or Dustin Brown)
Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist
Devils: Ilya Kovalchuk (or Zach Parise)

Mike Smith is clearly the top choice in Phoenix, but the goaltender will have to get back on track against the Kings to look Trophy worthy. You have to give him credit, Smith shined in the first two rounds of the playoffs and became a well-known name around the league. He's maintained a .943 save percentage and has recorded two shutouts since the end of the regular season--one against the Blackhawks and another against the Devils.

Deciding between Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick isn't easy. The Kings' captain has recorded seven goals and seven assists in 11 games, two of them short-handed. On top of that, he's maintained a level of physicality on the ice that isn't comparable to anything else we've seen in the postseason. His ability to deliver and absorb hits without hindering his performance has skyrocketed the Kings to a phenomenal 10-1 playoff record.

But when analyzing the Kings, you have to remember that Jonathan Quick is the reason Los Angeles made it to the playoffs in the first place. The Kings were the worst offensive team in the league for a good portion of the season, and they went through a frustratingly-long rough patch of not being able to score more than two goals per game. Quick's outstanding on-ice performance has only gotten stronger during the playoffs. His .951 postseason save percentage and two shutouts have helped make the Kings unstoppable and is the reason Roenick has chosen him as his top pick. Quick's also a candidate for the Vezina Trophy.

Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding for the Rangers. Despite New York's scoring struggles from time to time, they managed to hold on to the top seed in the east. Roenick points out that Lundqvist has been the most consistent goalie since October, and his .930 regular season save percentage backs that statement. If the Rangers and Kings were to advance to the Stanley Cup finals, the goalie battle would keep any hockey fan at the edge of their seat. He is also a candidate for the Vezina Trophy (Pekka Rinne is the third goalie battling for the honor).

When looking at the Devils, Roenick believes Ilya Kovalchuk is the better choice over Zach Parise. Kovalchuk has transformed into more of a team player and has produced six goals and seven assists in 13 playoff games. But it's important to note that Parise has always shown his dedication to the sport at to his team, pushing the Devils to constantly improve. He's recorded four goals and five assists in the postseason.

If a winner were chosen today, who would you pick as your favorite candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. How will Blackhawks respond to worst loss of season?

The Blackhawks suffered their worst loss of the season on Saturday in a 7-0 rout at the hands of the Panthers. It was the first time they've lost by at least seven goals since 2011 when Edmonton beat them 9-2 and the first time they lost 7-0 since 2001 against San Jose; the Blackhawks lost to Washington 6-0 earlier this year. But by no means was Saturday their worst effort of the season. A questionable interference penalty by Marcus Kruger led to a two-man advantage, which Florida cashed in on with a goal and another shortly after, and it opened up the floodgates. Expect a big bounce-back against a hungry Lightning team.

2. Lightning fighting for playoff lives.

Every game is a must-win for the Lightning with eight games remaining on their schedule. They're three points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on the Bruins, who currently occupy that spot, but still have to jump the Islanders. The Lightning didn't do themselves any favors by losing three straight in regulation last week, but they've won two in a row and tonight will be the first of a four-game homestand for them.

3. Keep the puck off Nikita Kucherov's stick.

There isn't a hotter player in the NHL right now than Kucherov, who has seven goals and two assists in his last four games. He's had two hat tricks in the past month, and he ranks sixth in the league with 78 points and second in goals with 38. You know how lethal Artemi Panarin's slapshot is from the left faceoff circle? That's Kucherov, but on the right side.

4. Staying disciplined.

The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team in the league, but they acted out of character Saturday by racking up 30 penalty minutes. They were also slapped with a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties, which isn't something you normally see from Joel Quenneville's teams. Ryan Hartman, who along with Marcus Kruger was penalized for "yapping" at the officials, accepted responsibility for it after the game, and insisted it "won't happen again."

5. Special teams to play key factor?

On the flip side, the Lightning are the second-most penalized team, averaging just over 11 penalty minutes per game. Power plays will be key for the Blackhawks in an effort to keep Tampa Bay's collection of talented young goal scorers off the ice. The Lightning also boast a top-five power play unit with a 22 percent success rate. Both teams would be better served staying out of the box and making this a 5-on-5 battle.

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Blackhawks: All of the most recent news and notes

- See what Blackhawks fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Blackhawks Pulse

White Sox may have to deal with Francisco Lindor for a while, according to unlikely source

White Sox may have to deal with Francisco Lindor for a while, according to unlikely source

Sources have confirmed that kids really do say the darndest things. 

In a spring training game Sunday afternoon, 6-year-old Brody Chernoff, son of Indians general manager Mike Chernoff, spilled the beans on his dad's prospective moves. Goated by announcer Todd Hamilton, Brody said that his dad was trying to keep Lindor in Cleveland for seven more years.

On one hand, Brody's honesty rivals a young Abraham Lincoln. Not even Adrian Wojnarowski could cultivate a source so honest and to the point. On the other, his dad probably is a little shocked that contract offer leaks are coming from his own family. 

Either way, though, hearing that Lindor may be in Cleveland for a while is bad news for the White Sox. The 23-year-old stud shortstop has hit over .300 in his first two big-league seasons. So definitely not someone you want to have in your division for years to come. Oh, plus he's absolutely nasty with the leather. 

Cubs fans know all about Lindor's talents, too. The shortstop hit .296 in his first World Series and was almost a key reason the Indians captured the crown. Almost!

Watch the hilarious exchange in the video above.