Conn Smythe Trophy 2021: Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy Wins Playoff MVP

Blake SchusterContributor IJuly 8, 2021

TAMPA, FL - JUNE 05: Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevsky (88) tracks the puck during Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round match between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes on June 05, 2021 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One year after Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, his teammate and netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy nabbed the award as the Bolts successfully defended their title with a 1-0 victory in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday. 

It's the fifth straight series-clinching shutout for the goalie, who allowed just 44 goals in 23 playoff games (1.93 goals against average). 


Absolutely amazing <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a> Playoffs performance from 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Andrei Vasilevskiy! ⚡ <a href="https://t.co/rElGzlSVcu">pic.twitter.com/rElGzlSVcu</a>

Stats By STATS @StatsBySTATS

Vasilevskiy is also just the third goalie all-time with 2 shutouts in Stanley Cup Final clinchers, joining Clint Benedict (1923, 1926) and Bernie Parent (1974, 1975).

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

THIS IS AMAZING 🚨<br><br>Watch the Lightning win their second straight title<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NHLonNBCSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHLonNBCSports</a>)<a href="https://t.co/4RJUpgVlNf">pic.twitter.com/4RJUpgVlNf</a>

Vasilevskiy becomes the first goaltender to win the award since Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick in 2012 and just the 17th goaltender to claim the Conn Smythe in NHL history. 

The netminder is also the sixth player—and first goalie—born outside of North America to win the award, joining Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin and Hedman. 

While it's typical for a few players to build a case for playoff MVP, Vasilevskiy had as much of a challenge as any player trying to claim the Conn Smythe. 

Brayden Point notched 14 goals and nine assists throughout the postseason, including a stretch where he scored in nine consecutive games against the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes. 

NHL Network @NHLNetwork

Looking to clinch a series? Andrei Vasilevskiy is your goalie.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLTonight?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHLTonight</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/mike_p_johnson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@mike_p_johnson</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/TBLightning?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TBLightning</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a> <a href="https://t.co/Y8oVxNGkO5">pic.twitter.com/Y8oVxNGkO5</a>

Nikita Kucherov had a solid case as well, posting 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists) over the course of the playoffs. Hedman, too, had a shot at repeating with 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) while skating an averaged of 24:38 per night. 

Yet Vasilevskiy outplayed them all, coming up with major stop after major stop, ensuring his team never lost consecutive games and outworking one of the best goalies of his generation in Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price. 

"Torches get passed, and I think Carey is still carrying the torch, but it’s getting passed to guys like Vasy," Lightning head coach John Cooper said earlier in the series. "It's the mental makeup. Carey Price has a demeanor about him that it exudes confidence. And he has an ability to turn the page. He has an ability to play at big moments, and he's grown into that."