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Five Players to Watch in 2021 Stanley Cup Finals
As the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals are set to drop the puck Monday night, the Montreal Canadiens are gunning for their first Cup win since 1993, while the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to repeat as champions.
Here, we’ve highlighted five players who will have a significant impact on the series.
Goaltenders Carey Price and Andrei Vasilevskiy
While listing the goaltenders as players who will have a major impact on the series is generally a lazy take, we cannot emphasize enough how good this goaltending matchup is, as it is easily the best goaltending matchup of the last decade in a Cup Final.
Vasilevskiy and Price rank first and second, respectively, in postseason save percentage (.936 to .934). They are also second and third, respectively, in GAA (1.99 for Vasilevskiy, 2.04 for Price) and are the top two goaltenders in playoff saves (523 for Vasilevskiy in 18 games, 495 for Price in 17 games).
These are the two best goaltenders on the planet, and they should show it in this series.
Montreal Forward Nick Suzuki
Suzuki is just 21 years old but is playing with poise and confidence well beyond his years. He’s tallied 20 points in 27 career playoff games, including five goals and eight assists this postseason.
Playing with a pair of talented scoring wingers in Tyler Toffoli and Cole Caufield, Suzuki does an excellent job of driving the play and will be heavily leaned on to generate offense against Tampa Bay. The Lightning score more goals per game (3.22) than the Canadiens (2.53) by a considerable margin and the Suzuki line will need to be lights-out to help close that gap.
Tampa Bay Defenseman David Savard
The Lightning traded for former Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard at the trade deadline, filling their need for a right-handed shot from the blue line. While Savard hasn’t lit up the scoreboard (three assists in 15 games) or played a tremendous amount of minutes (14:51 time on ice per game, fifth among Lightning defensemen), the ability to play responsible defense and give Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, and Mikhail Segachev a breather is indispensable this time of year.
Despite the limited ice time, Savard ranks third among Tampa Bay defensemen in hits, but with just four penalty minutes throughout the playoffs, Savard does an excellent job of irritating opponents with physical play while not putting his team shorthanded as a result. If Savard can be an effective agitator, Montreal will have headaches trying to work through the Bolts’ blue line.
Canadiens Forward Corey Perry
Perry is one of the more polarizing figures in the modern NHL, balancing high-level skill with a game that sometimes crosses the line into reckless and dangerous, earning him the nickname “The Worm.”
While the borderline element to his game is undeniable, Perry is also incredibly talented offensively, and sometimes, the edgy playstyle overshadows his scoring abilities. Perry is a four-time All-Star, a former Hart Trophy Winner, a Stanley Cup winner with the Ducks in 2007, and scored several key goals while leading the Dallas Stars to the Cup Final last season.
If Montreal is going to win this series, Perry will be a key cog in the big red machine. With three goals and six assists so far in the playoffs, the 36-year-old Perry still has plenty in the tank.
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