In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take an updated look at the Conn Smythe watch through the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
We are down to just four teams and all of them have at least one good candidate so far.
Leading the way are a couple of goalies that have helped carry their teams, following closely by a couple of the league’s best forwards.
Who all makes the Conn Smythe Watch in this week’s NHL Power Rankings?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning. The goal he gave up to Ryan Pulock in Game 1 is probably the one goal he allowed this postseason where you could look at and say, “Wow, I can not believe he did not stop that.” Overall, he has been sensational in the playoffs and the best player on the Lightning. Tampa Bay has not been quite as dominant as it was in the playoffs a year ago and has had to lean on Vasilevskiy a little more, and he has been more than up to the challenge. The perks of having the best goalie in the league on your roster.
2. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens. Nobody expected the Canadiens to be here at this point, but they are. And Price is the biggest reason why. He has the league’s top save percentage this postseason and has been lights out during Montreal’s seven-game winning streak going into the semifinals. He is not as consistently dominant as he used to be, but he can still put it all together in big games.
3. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning. For the second year in a row he is leading the league in postseason scoring, and by a pretty significant margin. He already has 19 points in Tampa Bay’s first 12 games and has at least one point in all but one of the Lightning’s games. That includes five multi-point games and three three-point games.
4. Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights. His offensive numbers may not be as impressive as Kucherov’s, but he is right there in the discussion. He is Vegas’ best forward and one of the best all-around players in the league. He helped keep Colorado’s top line in check in the Second Round, if a force on the penalty kill, and has an overtime game winning goal that helped swing the Colorado series in Vegas’ favor.
5. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, New York Islanders. Adding Pageau at the NHL Trade Deadline a year ago and then re-signing him has been Lou Lamoriello’s second best move with the Islanders (only behind hiring Barry Trotz). Pageau has been magnificent in the playoffs, helping drive New York’s defensive game and also making big contributions offensively.
6. Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights. A year ago in the playoffs he was sitting on the bench and we were all wondering if his days with the Golden Knights were over. Now the net belongs to him again and he is playing some of the best hockey of his career. Crazy how things work out sometimes.
7. Josh Bailey, New York Islanders. Bailey has been one of the core players for the Islanders for more than a decade and has been through low times and high times. He has also been outstanding in the playoffs, averaging close to a point per game so far. He has scored 10 of his 12 points at even strength.
8. Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights. Maybe a surprise name on the list given how he missed most of the First Round, but in the games he has played he has been outstanding. He has at least one point in each of his seven games, scoring four goals and adding four assists. That includes three game-winning goals. He keeps playing like this as Vegas’ postseason run goes on and he will rapidly climb the list.
9. Tyler Toffoli, Montreal Canadiens. Montreal’s best offensive player during the regular season has continued that into the playoffs. What a steal he has been for the Canadiens this season. What a mistake by Vancouver to let him get away.
10, Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders. Varlamov was great in the Second Round and he was great in Game 1. Based on that you could make a strong argument that he should be higher than 10th. But I can not get past the fact that he did not win a single game in the First Round and, based on the way he played there, I am not sure the Islanders would have advanced beyond there if they had not gone to Ilya Sorokin. The past seven games have put him back in the discussion, though.