You’d be hard-pressed to find a more exciting two words in sports than “Game 7.” Hockey fans will be treated on Wednesday, when the Boston Bruins host the St. Louis Blues in a winner-take-all match to decide who will hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Both teams have an equal opportunity to win at TD Garden, as the Blues have won twice on the road in this series already. So, when all is said-and-done, which individual player will lay claim to the second-most important trophy of the year? We have updated odds and analysis for the coveted Conn Smythe Award, given to the postseason MVP.
Tuukka Rask, BOS (-210)
The Bruins have faced three elimination games this postseason, and Tuukka Rask has dominated all of them. In those games, he only allowed four goals (1.33 GAA) and recorded an absurd .953 save percentage. In fact, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Rask wins the Conn Smythe even if Boston loses. That’s how good he’s been during this run.
Only one goalie has started as many games (23) in a playoff year while posting a better save percentage (.938) in NHL history. Ironically, that goalie was Tim Thomas (.940), who played 25 games during the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup-winning run. Furthermore, there have only been five goalies that have played at least 20 games in a playoff run and recorded a better save percentage than Rask this year. Three of the five won Conn Smythes that year, including Jean-Sebastian Giguere, who won the award in a losing effort in 2003. One of the two that didn’t win the Conn Smythe? Yup, Tuukka Rask himself in 2013, when he recorded a .940 save percentage.
Ryan O’Reilly, STL (+300)
If the Blues win and Rask doesn’t claim the award, then there are a few choices that could be made. The only problem with that is the three players that could steal the award from Rask may also steal votes from one another, as there hasn’t been as clear-cut of a favorite on the St. Louis side. The leader in the clubhouse right now is Ryan O’Reilly, who have seven points (4 G, 3 A) in the series and had three points in the winner-take-all Game 7 victory against San Jose in the Conference Finals. If St. Louis wins and O’Reilly notches multiple points or a crucial goal, he will likely take home the award.
Jordan Binnington (+500)
Currently, Vladimir Tarasenko (+450) has the second-best odds among St. Louis players to win the award; however, the goalie usually gets the benefit of the doubt if it is a close call. Jordan Binnington has had a couple rough outings against Boston, including a pair of losses by 4+ goals. With that being said, he has also been the reason the Blues have been in games, as well. For example, their 2-1 Game 5 win on the road was in-large-part thanks to the game that Binnington turned in. If he happens to shut out Boston, and neither O’Reilly or Tarasenko score in the game, then he could very well jump to the top of the leader board and claim the prestigious award.