Conn Smythe Power Rankings: Nathan MacKinnon on impressive streak

HNIC analyst Cassie Campbell-Pascall joins HC to explain why she's been so impressed with the Avalanche so far these playoffs, led by Nathan MacKinnon, who's so talented, so strong, and why it's his time.

The first official round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs had its fair share of drama highlighted by a handful of standout performances.

With the second round underway, here’s a look at some of the top performers so far this post-season.

1. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche
There’s no question the Avalanche star has been the top skater in the playoffs. Riding a nine-game post-season point streak, with six goals and 10 assists, MacKinnon is as dangerous as any player on the planet at the moment. MacKinnon logged more than 10 minutes of ice time in the third period of Game 1 against the Stars with his team trailing and factored into each of his team’s three goals. He looks to be a man on a mission.

2. Carter Hart, G, Philadelphia Flyers
Outduelling his idol, Carey Price, was a huge moment for the 22-year-old netminder. Hart has only had two rough outings so far this post-season. Both were against the Montreal Canadiens when he gave up four goals on two separate occasions – those two losses, however, sandwiched back-to-back shutouts so his overall numbers didn’t suffer. His .964 even strength save percentage leads all goaltenders.

3. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dallas Stars
Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar got plenty of attention as standout rookies this season, but the sophomore Heiskanen might just be the most impressive young defenceman in the game. He’s often the best player on the ice, and that says a lot considering he has averaged more than 26 minutes per game so far, while leading all defencemen with 13 points.

4. Brayden Point, C, Tampa Bay Lightning
He’s leading his team with 11 points, 10 of which have been at even strength, and he’s winning 57.3 per cent of his faceoffs. Point was as clutch as it gets against the Blue Jackets. The 24-year-old scored the quintuple overtime winner in Game 1 then scored the series clincher in OT in Game 5.

5. Mark Stone, RW, Vegas Golden Knights
He’s consistently the best player on the best team in the Western Conference. He has 10 points in nine games and his five even-strength goals are tied for the post-season lead. Not bad considering he only starts 43 per cent of his shifts in offensive zone, which speaks to how valuable he is defensively.

6. Nazem Kadri, C, Colorado Avalanche
Kadri would be higher on this list if it weren’t for his teammate MacKinnon. Kadri’s five power-play goals leads all players and his three game-winners is tied for most in the playoffs.

7. Semyon Varlamov, G, New York Islanders
He hasn’t needed to be spectacular but he has been as steady as it comes for the Isles. Varlamov hasn’t faced more than 29 shots in any game in the playoffs and has only allowed more than two goals twice. His .960 even strength save percentage is second best behind Hart.

8. Jacob Markstrom, G, Vancouver Canucks
Markstrom was chased in Game 1 against Vegas after allowing five goals on 34 shots, but prior to that he was 7-3 with a .929 save percentage. Four of Vancouver’s seven playoff wins have been by one goal and Markstrom deserves much of the credit. The pending unrestricted free agent has faced more shots and made more saves than any other goalie. He made several 10-bell saves in first round as the Canucks eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Honourable mentions: Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Robin Lehner, David Krejci, Anthony Beauvillier, Brad Marchand, Reilly Smith

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