Marchessault was named the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs following the Knights’ commanding 9-3 Stanley Cup-clinching victory Tuesday in Game 5 against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena. Marchessault recorded an assist in the win that gave the Golden Knights their first title in their six-year history.
Marchessault led the Golden Knights with 13 goals and ranked second with 25 points. His lone point in Game 5 extended his postseason scoring streak to 10 games and also gave him a short-lived lead atop of the playoff points standings. Marchessault entered Game 5 tied for first in points with Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz and Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk with 24.
Then, Golden Knights center Jack Eichel finished with three assists to eclipse Marchessault by a single point in the final standings.
Marchessault saw his stock surge from that of a steady producer to a player who became one of the main threats in the Golden Knights’ run to a championship.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team, our organization,” Marchessault said. “Everybody stepped up at different times and that’s why we’re winners.”
One of the looming questions entering Game 5 — aside from if the Golden Knights would win the Cup at home — was centered on who would ultimately win the Conn Smythe.
Several players presented arguments. Eichel gave the Golden Knights the sort of top-line center who could drive play while being trusted in defensive situations. Eichel’s maiden playoff voyage saw him shrug off questions about his lack of playoff experience. He gave the Golden Knights the production expected of a No. 1 center by entering Game 5 just one point away from being tied for first.
Adin Hill was on the bench to start the playoffs. But Laurent Brossoit‘s injury in the second round allowed Hill to take over. His performances made the Golden Knights’ already formidable defensive approach even more challenging to play against. Hill entered Game 5 in the top five of postseason goals-against average and save percentage and tied for first in shutouts.
Everything about Mark Stone‘s short-handed goal in the first period reinforced why he also made a case. Stone’s two-way prowess allows him to seemingly be everywhere at once, and that’s what happened when he gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead in Game 5. He forced a turnover for a 2-on-1 chance he buried. Stone scored two more to record a hat trick that also further legitimized his case for the Conn Smythe with 24 points to tie Hintz and Tkachuk.
The value of two-way play is why William Karlsson became a bit of an underdog pick for the Conn Smythe. Karlsson entered Game 5 just two goals shy of being tied for first place. And while his goals have played a major role in Vegas’ success, he has also been at the heart of forecheck that has found success against four of the five players who led the NHL in postseason points before the Cup Final. Of those players, Karlsson was part of the effort that kept four of them pointless for at least one game.
To know Vegas could rely on several players to win games was one of its strengths both in the regular season and in the postseason. It’s the kind of depth that led them to a championship but also made it challenging to accurate judge who could win the playoff MVP award.
Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault wins Conn Smythe as playoff MVP