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Sports Conn Smythe power rankings 2020: Top six candidates for NHL's playoff MVP

01:47  19 september  2020
01:47  19 september  2020 Source:   sportingnews.com

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It's September and the 2020 Stanley Cup Final is finally upon us.

After months of bubble hockey, the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning will vie for Lord Stanley's Cup.

While a team-first mentality is always the key component to a successful postseason run, there are a few players who have risen to the top for the coveted Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the best player in the postseason.

Entering 2020, only five Conn Smythe winners have claimed the award without being on the winning team, and this could be the year we see that happen again. After all, the two netminders in this matchup have had outstanding playoffs thus far. However, they are not the only ones who could skate away with not one, but two trophies in June.

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Sporting News ranks the top six MVP candidates entering the Stanley Cup Final.

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6. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning

Overshadowed by his teammates, Vasilevskiy has quietly put together a stunning postseason run. He's posted a .931 save percentage and 1.82 goals-against average in 19 starts. At 5v5 his save percentage rises to .941 and he has an eye-popping GSAA (6.64), according to Natural Stat Trick. In his past nine games, he's allowed more than two goals just once, when he gave up four to the Islanders in their Game 3 win.

5. Victor Hedman, Lightning

The Swede has been an absolute beast for Jon Cooper's squad, logging more than 26 minutes a game across 19 postseason contests. In Game 6 against the Islanders, he scored his ninth of the postseason to tie the Bruins' Brad Park (1978) and Bobby Orr (1970) for the third-most goals by a defenseman in a single playoff year. Ahead of him on the list are Brian Leetch (11 with the Rangers in 1994) and Paul Coffey (12 with the Oilers in 1985). Orr and Leetch both won the Conn Smythe. He enters the Stanley Cup Final with a two-game goal-scoring streak and, defensively, has amassed a 97.44 On-Ice Save Percentage at 5v5 ( per Natural Stat Trick ).

Former Maple Leafs forward, Rangers captain Bob Nevin dead at 82

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a hockey player on the field: victor-hedman-lightning-040719-getty-ftr.jpeg © Provided by Sporting News victor-hedman-lightning-040719-getty-ftr.jpeg

4. Miro Heiskanen, Stars

The 2020 postseason has been Heiskanen's coming-out party. If you didn't know who the sophomore defenseman was before summer hockey — which, honestly, you should have — you do now. Selected third overall in 2017 by the Stars, Heiskanen has posted 22 points (five goals, 17 assists), including eight on the power play and a plus-3 rating in 21 postseason games.

In the Game 6 clincher against the Flames, he started the Stars comeback with a goal and assisted on the 3-2 goal and the game-winner, and in the Game 7 win over the Avalanche he netted two assists. At just 21, he's been Dallas' top defenseman, posting a 50.61 Corsi For percentage and 93.81 On-Ice Save Percentage and a team-best 16.37 expected Goals For at 5v5 (per Natural Stat Trick ). He and partner Jamie Oleksiak also tie for the team's lead in PDO (Shooting percentage plus save percentage) at 1.031.

Canadiens' pipeline filling up with young talent

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Stanley Cup Final: Predictions, schedule, odds for Lightning vs. Stars

3. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

Kucherov followed up his 2019 Hart Trophy season with a team-best 85-point regular season (33 goals, 52 assists). Since heading to the bubble, he's collected six goals and 20 assists in 19 games — best in the NHL — along with seven power-play points. In 13 career games against the Stars, he's netted 16 points (five goals, 11 assists), including three assists in their two-game series this year.

2. Brayden Point, Lightning

At just 24, Point has been a game-changer for the Bolts. In 17 games he's collected 19 points, including two overtime game-winners — the five OT winner in Game 1 versus the Blue Jackets and the overtime goal in Game 5 to close out the series. When he's in the lineup, he not only dictates the game with his speed and scoring touch but helps to set all four lines; the two games he missed in the Eastern Conference final, Games 3 and 5, were wins for the Islanders.

a sign on the side of a snow covered slope: anton-khudobin-dallas-stars-091520-getty-ftr.jpeg © Provided by Sporting News anton-khudobin-dallas-stars-091520-getty-ftr.jpeg

1. Anton Khudobin, Stars

First off, a quick reminder: Anton Khudobin led the NHL during the regular season with a .930 save percentage. In the postseason, he has a .920 save percentage in 19 games (18 starts) and held Vegas' high-powered offense in check with a .950 save percentage. At 5v5 his save percentage rises to .928 and he's got an impressive 4.63 HDGSAA. The netminder has been a key component to Dallas advancing to this point, and if they win the Stanley Cup, he'll be the main reason.


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Lightning Cup win a lesson in both going all-in and sticking to the plan .
It was mid-afternoon on Aug. 19, and Jon Cooper looked exhausted. He seemed spent - like he was just glad it was all over, wholly relieved the Tampa Bay Lightning had claimed a first-round Game 5 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets inside Toronto's Scotiabank Arena during the strangest NHL postseason ever. Finally, the weight was off his shoulders. "We had 422 days to think about it, but who's counting?" Cooper, the NHL's longest tenured headHe seemed spent - like he was just glad it was all over, wholly relieved the Tampa Bay Lightning had claimed a first-round Game 5 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets inside Toronto's Scotiabank Arena during the strangest NHL postseason ever. Finally, the weight was off his shoulders.

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