The dust has settled on the conference finals as we begin to prepare for a showdown between the Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Golden Knights are, of course, are making their first Finals appearance and the Capitals are returning for the first time in 20 years.
The Golden Knights reached the finals by virtue of knocking off the Kings, the Sharks, and the Winnipeg Jets in the West Finals. On the flip side, the Caps rallied against the Blue Jackets, got over the hump against the Penguins, and dispatched the Lightning on the road in game seven.
By all accounts, this looks as though it will be a long, knock down, drag out series between two of the best teams all season long. Here are the current favorites for the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the Stanley Cup Finals MVP:
1. Marc-Andre Fleury – G – Vegas Golden Knights
As it stands right now, Flower is the clear front-runner for the award. After losing his job in Pittsburgh to Matt Murray last season, Marc-Andre Fleury was left exposed in the expansion draft and the Golden Knights pounced. The former first overall selection was the team’s MVP all regular season and has continued his superb play in the playoffs. Fleury has posted a 12-3 record in 15 games thus far. He has a stellar .947 save percentage and a 1.68 goals against average with four shutouts. If the Golden Knights win the series, it is very likely Fleury continued his MVP play.
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2. Alex Ovechkin – LW – Washington Capitals
The face of the Capitals franchise for the past 13 seasons has had a superb playoff run. He is second on the Caps in points with 22 but leads the team in goals with 12. Two of his goals have been game-winners, including the opening goal in game seven against Tampa that propelled them to the Finals. No doubt, in order for the Capitals to complete the mission ’16W’ then Ovechkin will have to be at his very best.
3. Jon Marchessault – C – Vegas Golden Knights
Just like Ovechkin, Jon Marchessault has also notched two game-winners this postseason. His eight total goals lead the Golden Knights. He leads in total points as well with 10 assists. In addition, he leads the team in plus/minus with a plus-10, meaning he is getting the job done in 5-on-5 play. He has scored seven of his eight goals this postseason playing even-strength.
In the running: Evgeny Kuznetsov (WSH), Brayden Holtby (WSH), and William Karlsson (VGK)