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With more than a week of first round playoff action completed, it's the perfect time to sit down and take a long look at the Stanley Cup Finals MVP landscape — also known as the Conn Smythe award. It is awarded to the best player in the playoffs and is usually given to skaters, as a goalie hasn’t won the award since 2012. It is also very uncommon for a player from the losing team to capture the award, but happened most recently in 2003.
The Colorado Avalanche are the odds-on favorite (+250 at PointsBet) to capture the Cup, and Nathan MacKinnon is the best player on the team — that’s a pretty simple formula. The Avs have already punched their ticket to the next round after sweeping the St. Louis Blues Sunday night. MacKinnon finished the four-game series with six goals and three assists. He currently leads the playoffs in goals by three and is tied for the points lead with Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov, who was injured last Saturday.
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The Colorado forward amassed 25 points in 15 playoff games a year ago which was the best points/game mark. However, the Avalanche failed to advance to the third round and didn't have the services of their starting goalie in Philipp Grubauer. If this is the year the Avalanche can get deep, and they have the goaltending to do so, MacKinnon will likely be the reason. +350 isn’t the best price for these kinds of futures, but make no mistake: Nate Mac is the heavy favorite.
Best Value — Conn Smythe winner — Patrice Bergeron (+2200 at PointsBet)
The Boston Bruins have surprised some after they dismantled the Capitals in five games and will face the winner of the Penguins-Islanders series in the second round. With a team as experienced as this that now features two potent scoring lines and a shutdown bottom-six, Boston has a great chance to make it to the Finals.
The five games in the Washington-Boston series weren’t high-scoring, with the Under going 4-1, but the big boys showed up and produced as the top line of Marchand-Pastrnak-Bergeron finished with 13 points. Choosing which of these players to take as the MVP is not an easy decision, but Patrice Bergeron is where we’re landing.
First off, Bergeron is a center and more valuable than his wingmates. A center has won the award 19 times, or nearly 35 percent of the time. Wingers and defensemen have combined to win 20 times. At +2200 (at PointsBet), he has the best odds of the three: Pastrnak (+1600 at PointsBet) and Marchand (+1600 at PointsBet). Additionally, he’s the captain of the team and has the veteran appeal, as this is his 16th season with the club. He is also a warrior and will play through almost any injury.
If you’re sprinkling the board looking for some value, do not overlook one of the best two-way forwards in the game.
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