- Tuukka Rask leads all playoff goalies with a dominant .938 save percentage
- Blues goalie Jordan Binnington has a .915 save percentage in the postseason
- The two tenders are the frontrunner for the 2019 Conn Smythe for playoff MVP
The Conference Finals start today as Carolina and Boston duke it out in the East while St. Louis and San Jose will battle for Western Conference supremacy starting on Saturday.
With two rounds down and two rounds to play, the Conn Smythe talk is starting to heat up. A couple of favorites have emerged in the odds to win playoff MVP.
Odds to win the 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy
*Odds taken 05/09/19
Do the Bunch of Jerks have staying power?
Carolina has been the talk of the Stanley Cup playoffs with their comeback win against the defending Stanley Cup champs Washington in round one, and then a sweep of the New York Islanders in round two.
THIS BUNCH OF JERKS IS HEADED TO THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL!!!
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) May 4, 2019
Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek has odds of +950, while teammate Teuvo Teräväinen is at +1400.
They match up against a Boston Bruins team that is getting lights-out goaltending from Tuukka Rask, who is the outright favorite at +700.
Rask leads the playoffs in both save percentage at 938 SV% and goals against average at 2.02 GAA. He posted his first shutout at just the right time, blanking Columbus 3-0 in the deciding Game 6 of that series.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 7, 2019
Rask coming up big for the Bruins when it matters most
Rask is the favorite to win the Conn Smythe and it’s due to more than his league-leading stats. Rask has been at his best in big games in rounds one and two. He has been a clutch performer, and that gets noticed by voters.
He gave Boston two great performances in Games 6 and 7 against the Leafs in round one, allowing 3 goals on 57 shots to complete the comeback.
Down 2-1 to Columbus in round two, he stop 39 of 40 shots to stem a Columbus team that held momentum in that series to that point. He then shut out Columbus in Game 6, as mentioned, to complete the series win.
Given that the Conn Smythe-winner almost always comes from the Cup champion, Boston’s status as 2019 Stanley Cup favorites further cements his status as the deserving favorite.
Binnington giving opponents the blues
Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington didn’t even start the season in St. Louis. His first start wasn’t until January 7th, when he shutout the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0.
He had a hot hand in February and March, winning Rookie of the Month honors. If not for Vancouver’s rookie phenom Elias Pettersson, he’d likely win the Calder Trophy despite playing only half a season.
St Louis wouldn’t even be in the postseason without Binnington’s heroics; they were last in the league on January 3rd. Binnington’s play was a big part of their turnaround.
He has continued that in the postseason, helping St. Louis shutdown the Winnipeg Jets in six games. He slightly outplayed Dallas goalie and Vezina candidate Ben Bishop in round two, which is no small accomplishment.
He now has an 8-5 record to go with a rock solid 2.39 GAA and .915 save percentage.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 8, 2019
Is Marchand the real jerk of these playoffs?
Brad Marchand is not a popular player at the best of times and, again this playoffs, he showed why. Post-game comments or lack thereof did not endear him to the media or fans.
He has played well this postseason, leading Boston with 13 points in 13 games.
Marchand is a lot like Edmonton Oilers great Esa Tikkanen, a man who you love to have on your team but is hated by opponents. Tikkanen excelled in the playoffs, harassing opponents and making big plays while winning five Stanley Cups. Marchand is like a more skilled version of the Finnish legend.
San Jose’s Martin Jones has turned his season around
San Jose’s Martin Jones has been here before, taking the Sharks to the Stanley Cup final in 2016. He started slow in the first round against the Vegas Golden Knights, but turned things around in a big way in Game 6, stopping 58 Vegas shots to set a franchise record for most saves in a game.
Jones was equally as sharp against the Colorado Avalanche, holding his team in several of the games and ultimately coming out on top against Colorado goalie Philipp Grubauer.
— x – San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) May 9, 2019
The Best Bet
With the Conference finals upon us, Tuukka Rask is the rightful favorite to win the Conn Smythe given his play in the first two rounds. He has improved from odds of +950 to +700 and should keep trending up as we move to the Stanley Cup final. Bet on him to win it over Binnington and Marchand.
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