NHL Power Rankings: Conn Smythe Watch entering Stanley Cup Final Game 4

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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take an updated look at the race for the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup Playoff MVP.

With the Lightning entering Game 4 on Monday night holding a commanding 3-0 series lead, their players are going to dominate this week’s ranking because, well, odds are it is just a matter of when, and not if, they win the series.

Leading the way this week is their trio of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point. Montreal’s Carey Price is still the leader for the Canadiens but has taken a step back due to his start to the series.

Who else makes the NHL Power Rankings list this week?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning. He has a league best .938 save percentage this postseason and for the second year in a row has played every minute of the postseason. He is doing all of that for a team that is one game away from winning back-to-back Cups. The Lightning have had to rely on him to steal some games for them a little more frequently this postseason, and he has. Entering Game 4 (8 p.m. ET; NBC/Peacock) he has recorded a shutout in an NHL record four consecutive series clinching wins. He can extend it to five games on Monday. If he does, it would be the second straight Cup-clinching shutout for him.

2. NIkita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning. He played zero games during the regular season and stepped right into the lineup at the start of the playoffs and immediately started dominating. He is leading the NHL in scoring for the second postseason in a row and has topped 30 points in each of those two years. He has been even better this season on a per-game basis and has at least one point in 16 games so far. That includes nine multi-point games, six three-point games, and a four-point game.

3. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning. His postseason goal scoring is at an historic level for his career with 36 goals in 65 games. That includes 14-goal efforts in each of the past two seasons. He had a nine-game goal scoring streak earlier this postseason.

[NHL ON NBC STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

4. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens. Price was easily the frontrunner entering this series and had built a pretty strong argument for winning the award whether the Canadiens won the Cup or not. He has really struggled so far in the series, though, and his place in the race has dropped a little. He is still a slam dunk winner if Montreal were to somehow come back and win this series (or maybe even if they lose in seven games) but he is no longer the clear winner as things stand right now.

5. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning. Hedman is trying to become the rare player to win the Conn Smythe in consecutive seasons. He has not been quite as dominant as he was a year ago when he won during Tampa Bay’s championship run, but he has still been the best defenseman and a key player on a team that is one game away from winning back-to-back titles.

6. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning. After playing just three minutes in the playoffs in 2020, Stamkos is getting an opportunity to contribute this season. He is making a huge impact with 18 points in Tampa Bay’s first 21 games, including eight goals.

7. Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens. Suzuki has quickly become a cornerstone player for the Canadiens and for the second year in a row has been their most impressive forward in the playoffs. He has two of Montreal’s five goals through the first three games of the Cup Final and is probably, at this point, the one player on Montreal outside of Price that is in the discussion.

[Lightning aren’t giving Canadiens hope — or a lead]

8. Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning. Palat is one of the many secondary players that makes Tampa Bay’s roster the deepest in the league. He has been especially productive since the start of the semifinals with eight points (three goals, five assists) in the 10 games. That includes four points in the first three games of the Cup Final.

9. Anthony Cirelli, Tampa Bay Lightning. Great two player that has played some of his best hockey this postseason over the past two rounds. Not really a front runner for the award, but his performance deserves some recognition.

10. Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning. Killorn would probably be higher had it not been for the fact he has missed two games in the Stanley Cup Final. He has been great offensively when in the lineup and makes an impact in all phases of the game, playing a key role at even-strength, on the penalty kill, and on the power play.

2021 NHL playoff schedule: Stanley Cup Final – (TB leads 3-0)

Game 1: Lightning 5, Canadiens 1
Game 2: Lightning 3, Canadiens 1
Game 3: Lightning 6, Canadiens 3
Game 4: Mon. July 5: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock) – livestream
*Game 5: Wed. July 7: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)
*Game 6: Fri. July 9: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)
*Game 7: Sun. July 11: Canadiens at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)

*if necessary

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL Power Rankings: Conn Smythe Watch entering Stanley Cup Final Game 4 originally appeared on NBCSports.com