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Yzerman Grabs MVP Trophy

Steve Yzerman won his second Stanley Cup and his first Conn Smythe Trophy on Tuesday night.

Once called a player who could not lead his team to victory in the big games, Yzerman was finally officially recognized as the most valuable player of the playoffs with his strong all-around contribution.

Yzerman was the Red Wings' best player in the postseason, and it had to do with more than just his playoff-leading statistics of 24 points on six goals and 18 assists.

Not only did Yzerman score, but also worked on the power play and penalty killing unit and was a force on defense against whatever Capitals line was on the ice.

Coming into the Cup-clinching fourth game of the finals, Yzerman had posted the top face-off percentage of 68.2, winning 15 of 22.

For the first 13 years of his career, Yzerman had the label of not showing up for the big games. He could always score, posting six 100-point seasons, but his teams never won championships that is until the Red Wings ended a 42-year Cup drought last season.

All the perceptions about Yzerman changed after that, from being a loser to one of the great captains in the game.

Part of the credit went to coach Scotty Bowman, who convinced Yzerman to become more of a two-way player. But even that took time to change the image.

Before sweeping Philadelphia last year, Yzerman joked that people would not sit down next to him at a craps table in a casino.

But he started to get lucky after that. Yzerman scored in all four games against the Flyers, and continued that scoring splurge in the finals against the Capitals. He scored in seven straight games before going scoreless in the Red Wings' clinching game Tuesday night.

No player has had a longer streak since Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky scored at least one point in 12 consecutive finals games in 1987 and 1988. The longest such streak in Stanley Cup finals history is 15 games, set by Bryan Trottier of the New York Islanders in the early 1980s.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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