Perhaps most important of all was the zero positive COVID test that came back from the thousands of tests administered in bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto.
There were some memorable individual performances too, so even though the Stanley Cup Playoffs weren’t officially At first, we decided to rank the top Conn Smythe Trophy contenders after the qualifying round.
If you are a gamer you would have noticed that the subplayer gets hit frequently, so it shouldn’t surprise you that there are a number of goalies on the roster.
1. Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens
Pittsburgh’s biggest fear has come true. Playing a .500 team that had no reason to be in the playoffs shouldn’t have been a problem – on paper – but since this team could lean on perhaps the best goalie in the game, that was becoming an entirely different task. Price ended the series with a .947 save percentage and 1.67 GAA and a shutout. Price is so good at handling the puck and passing, it’s like having a third defenseman on the ice all the time. He also plays a little fiery – just watch his battles with Sidney Crosby in net – while still keeping his balance.
“We know we backed off and nobody gave us a chance, but we took it with a grain of salt and proved them wrong,” Price said after shutting out the Penguins in the game. series.
2. Sebastian Aho, C, Hurricanes de la Caroline
Aho has scored 38 goals in the regular season (sixth most in the league) and picked up where he left off in the postseason. The Finnish star scored eight points in Carolina’s three-game sweep against the New York Rangers and poses a threat on both ends of the ice every shift.
Connor McDavid’s ridiculous goal against the Blackhawks received a lot of praise, and for good reason, but Aho definitely had the finalist for best qualifying round goal when he won a puck fight against Jacob Trouba, completely stripped naked Tony DeAngelo and beat Igor Shesterkin backhand. Phenomenal.
3. Darcy Kuemper, G, Coyotes de l’Arizona
Kuemper’s save percentage of .933 and GAA of 2.77 do not do his performance justice. He faced more shots than any goaltender in the qualifying round, averaged 38 saves per start and kept his team in games as Nashville put the pressure on. He removes the back of the net extremely efficiently, so unless he’s shielded or there’s a tip, you need to beat him high. Kuemper finished fifth in Vezina’s vote last season and recorded a .928, 2.22 GAA save percentage, his career best this season, although he missed time with injuries both years, and we’ve seen what he’s capable of against the Preds. He will probably have to be the best player on his team if they hope to upset the Avalanche.
4. Jonathan Toews, C, Blackhawks de Chicago
Toews won the Conn Smythe Trophy ten years ago in his third season and the Chicago captain stepped back in time with a dominant streak against Edmonton. Former Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith also had a strong performance against the Oilers, but it was Toews who led the way as the Blackhawks pulled off the upset. He finished with four goals and added three assists while winning 55.3% of his faceoffs. When Toews wins puck battles, be careful.
5. Cam Talbot, G, Flames de Calgary
Of course, he didn’t have to face a healthy attack in Winnipeg after Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine got injured, but Talbot brought his A game against the Jets. Flames head coach Geoff Ward said his goaltender was the series MVP after posting a save percentage of .945 and 1.51 GAA in four starts.
“It was a huge confidence boost for me when the coaching staff and the guys trusted me to come with me into the first game,” said Talbot. “I just tried to come in and give us a chance to win and pass that decision off as a good decision. I have to thank them for this opportunity, and I’m trying to grab it and use it for now.
6. Mark Stone, RW, Vegas Golden Knights
He’s a possession beast who had five points, the team’s top, with an impressive 65.8 Corsi For percentage. The Golden Knights appear to be a legitimate Cup contender once again and Stone has been the team’s best player. He wasn’t around during Vegas’ magical inaugural season, but he shone with them in the playoffs last year before that heart-wrenching and controversial first-round outing. In 10 total playoff games in a Golden Knights uniform, Stone scored eight goals and 17 points while dominating defensively.
7. Carter Hart, G, Philadelphia Flyers
The sophomore goaltender has started two of three games in the Philly round robin, stopping 57 of 59 shots faced. The 22-year-old stopped Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn on breakaways, which went a long way towards Philly to secure the lead in the East. He has shown patience and skill well beyond his years and now faces his childhood hero, Carey Price, in a battle between two of Canada’s best goalies.
8. Anthony Beauvillier, LW, Islanders de New York
The 23-year-old Isles winger writes “Have Fun” on his stick and that’s exactly what he did against the Panthers. Beauvillier registered points in every game of the qualifying round, including two clutch goals in the deciding fourth game.
“I just think right now Beau just enjoys playing good hockey, and he’s rewarded with the production,” said Barry Trotz. “He’s skating on the puck, he’s working, he’s just focusing on his job at the time. I think it’s the maturity of a good young Beau player.
Mentions honorables: Joonas Korpisalo, Jacob Markstrom, Sean Monahan, Andrei Svechnikov, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Shea Weber, Quinn Hughes, Ryan O’Reilly