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Andrei Vasilevskiy among Conn Smythe Trophy favourites
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The Lightning goalie is heating up after a slow start to the Stanley Cup playoffs
It is not necessarily how you start in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but how a team or player finishes.
One can certainly use Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning as a recent case study. When the 2022 Conn Smythe Trophy betting market opened on PlayNow.com earlier this month, the Lightning’s 27-year-old puck stopper was a sizable long shot for the award.
On May 3, the odds of Vasilevskiy winning the Conn Smythe Trophy were 61.00 on PlayNow.com. The Lightning were down 1-0 in their series with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vasilevskiy had been exposed for five goals on 32 shots in Game 1. Not a great start to the post-season. In fact, Vasilevskiy’s struggles continued for most of that first round series with Toronto.
It wasn’t until Game 7 – winner-take-all between two elite teams – that the pre-series edge Tampa Bay had in net over the Maple Leafs came to fruition, when Vasilevskiy gave up one goal on 31 shots. Since then, he has been nearly unbeatable.
And the Conn Smythe Trophy odds reflect that.
As of Friday, Vasilevskiy had the third best odds to win the Conn Smythe Trophy at 6.50 on PlayNow.com. That is a significant jump from when the market opened. On May 11, with the Lightning down 3-2 in their series with the Maple Leafs, the odds for Vasilevskiy to win the Conn Smythe Trophy were 51.00.
The Bolts, two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, dispatched the Maple Leafs in seven games, and then swept the Florida Panthers in the second round. For the sixth time since 2015, the Lightning will play in a conference final.
Vasilevskiy, who won the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy, has once again regained that form that makes him one of the best goalies in the game.
In four games against Florida, Vasilevskiy surrendered only three goals on a total of 154 shots. He also recorded a 49-save shut out in Tampa Bay’s victory over Florida in Game 4 to secure the sweep and a spot in the Eastern Conference Final. He’s now rolling into the third round with a .932 save percentage in these playoffs – only slightly off his pace from last year’s Cup run when he posted a .937 save percentage.
Meanwhile, the Lightning just continue to win during this time of year.
Down to the Maple Leafs and facing elimination, the Lightning won Game 6 in overtime and then hung on to win Game 7 in Toronto. Facing the Presidents’ Trophy winning Florida Panthers in Round Two, the Bolts swept their state rival thanks largely to the play of their goalie.
In both cases, the Lightning opened the series as the underdogs and then emerged victorious.
Now, the Lightning get a few extra days rest while they await the winner of the Carolina Hurricanes – New York Rangers series.
The Lightning currently have the second-best odds on PlayNow.com to win the Stanley Cup at 3.50. Only the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference have better odds to win it all – currently at 2.35 on PlayNow.com.
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