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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Evan Rodrigues: Florida Panthers MVP of the Stanley Cup Final Thus Far



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Evan Rodrigues celebrates after scoring in the second period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 8 in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

FORT LAUDERDALE — Evan Rodrigues is not going to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, but when it comes to the Florida Panthers, he may just be their Stanley Cup Final MVP.

From scoring twice in Florida’s Game 1 win to setting up Matthew Tkachuk before scoring 12 seconds after the Oilers made it 4-1 in Game 4, Rodrigues has perhaps been Florida’s best player in the biggest games of their lives.

“He’s been really good this series, the whole playoff, the whole season as well,’’ Anton Lundell said.

“It’s been really fun to play with him. We talk a lot, he’s easy to play with, easy to talk with and we go through some plays. At the same time he works hard every day, on and off the ice, and I think that’s the biggest key for his success.”

Since the start of the season, the Panthers have used Rodrigues in a number of different lines and with numerous different players.

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As someone who played for three different teams before signing with the Panthers, Rodrigues was used to making new friends on new lines.

“I try to adjust my game a little bit, try to give my linemates the freedom to play their game,’’ said Rodrigues, who has four goals and six points in the first five games of the Cup Final.

“I adjust my game a little bit and try to bring a little bit of energy. Sometimes it might not be me. It might just be, when you switch lines up it gives everybody a little spark. Just seems to be clicking right now.”

Coach Paul Maurice says Rodrigues makes everyone he plays with better.

Going into tonight’s Game 6, Rodrigues will be with Sam Bennett and Tkachuk.

“You go back six, seven weeks into the regular season where he — maybe even longer than that, but then the last month and a half for sure — his game he just became more and more impactful in everything that he did,’’ Paul Maurice said.

“And he’s continued. We have moved him around and now, wherever he goes, he seems to get the people going that he’s playing with. He’s become that kind of player for us. It’s just a little switch based on a whole bunch of things, but some of them were just potential matchup changes that I was going to do during the game and then Matthew lights up and off they went.’’

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