The stage has now been set for the 2019 Stanley Cup Final with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues going toe-to-toe 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 2019, 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.
Sporting News ranks the top six MVP candidates entering the Stanley Cup Final.
6. Jaden Schwartz, Blues
During the 2018-19 NHL season, Schwartz netted 11 goals; in the 2019 playoffs, he has 12. The only player who has more is Logan Couture, and his Sharks were just ousted by Schwartz’s Blues. His goal total has been boosted by two hat tricks, including one in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. Schwartz is the first player in St. Louis history to have two hat tricks in one postseason and the first in the NHL since the Red Wings’ Johan Franzen in 2008.
5. Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues
Tarasenko enters the final on a six-game point streak. He now has eight goals and five assists, with seven of his points coming on the power play. If he can continue this clip against Boston it will not only propel St. Louis to its first-ever Cup but will all but guarantee Tarasenko his first individual award. He has looked dynamic with his linemates Schwartz and Brayden Schenn throughout the postseason, and in 10 career games against Boston Tarasenko has six points (three goals, three assists)
4. Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
One-third of the Perfection Line, Bergeron has posted eight goals and five assists in 17 playoff games. But if history repeats itself, he will turn it up in the Stanley Cup Final. In 2013’s Final Bergeron netted four goals, and two years prior he had five points, including two goals in Game 7 that propelled the Bruins to the Stanley Cup.
3. Brad Marchand, Bruins
Another part of the Perfection Line, Marchand is producing more than a point-per-game in the 2019 playoffs. He has 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 17 games and now has two game-winning goals, and he’s also a notorious agitator that gets opponents off their game. This could be a controversial pick, but Marchand has put up the numbers to be a part of the Conn Smythe conversation.
2. Jordan Binnington, Blues
This should really say “1B” as opposed to No. 2. As a playoff rookie, Binnington has posted impressive numbers which are not entirely unexpected considering what he did in the regular season. In 19 games he has a 2.36 goals-against average and .914 save percentage, and has been a steady rock in net for the Blues. While his stats dipped slightly against the Sharks, he did post impressive numbers in his one game against Boston during the season – 0.92 GAA and .969 save pct.
1. Tuukka Rask, Bruins
Basically, whichever team wins the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy should go right to that club’s netminder. However, Rask has done enough to potentially bump out Binnington even if the Blues win. He has an impressive 1.84 GAA, .942 save percentage and two shutouts – including a shutout in Game 4 to seal the trip to the Final. The Bruins netminder is peaking at the right time as his numbers got even better against Carolina with 1.25 GAA, and a .956 save pct. in four games.