The Stanley Cup is in Vegas, only the Golden Knights don’t want to see it just yet.
The Washington Capitals are just one victory away from winning the franchise’s first-ever championship, with a chance to hoist the Cup on enemy territory Thursday night.
With Washington up 3-1, our Conn Smythe rankings are admittedly heavy on the Capitals with one obvious exception as we narrow down the MVP race. Let’s take a look.
Ovechkin has been erasing the ‘can’t-win-the-big-one’ narrative all post-season long, showing up in big moments and wreaking havoc on opponents to the tune of 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points in 23 playoff games this spring.
The bigger the game, the better he plays, and he’s certainly showed up in this Final. The captain leads the league in post-season goals this spring and has registered a point in all four games this series so far, totalling two goals and two assists (and counting).
And while it obviously won’t count towards the Conn Smythe conversation, Ovechkin’s media scrum highlights are just as entertaining as his performances on the ice.
After an out-of-this-world run to the Final, Fleury’s stats have come back down to earth against the Capitals. His current stat line — 2.15 goals-against average, .929 save percentage — isn’t enough to make him this year’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere, but the fact still remains: If the Golden Knights can come back to claim the Cup, the Conn Smythe belongs to the man in the crease.
Honestly, we’re still not over Holtby’s incredible paddle save, but he’s given us plenty more to be excited about since that Game 2 magic. After a forgettable Game 1 in which he gave up five goals, he has let just five pucks past him in Games 2 through 4 combined. His 2.13 goals-against average and .923 save percentage is on par with Fleury’s right now, but his late-game heroics have been the real difference-maker for the Capitals in this Final.
Honestly, the man is a machine on offence this post-season. He’s a scoring threat every time he hits the ice, leading his peers in playoff points by a hefty margin. His 31 points through 23 games (12G, 19A) have him five ahead of Ovechkin, at No. 2.
Kuznetsov had an 11-game point streak before an injury forced him out of Game 2 of the Final, and he didn’t miss a beat upon his return in Game 3, tallying six points (1G, 5A) in the past two games alone to help the Capitals push the Golden Knights to the bring of elimination. If Washington can seal the deal in Game 5, it’s a safe bet Kuznetsov will play a significant role in the win.