Fantasy

NHL Playoffs: Unsung Heroes of the First Round

Every year it seems like some team has a player who just comes from nowhere to help lead his team on a march to the Cup final, and so far there have been a few players who show the potential to do just that in these NHL playoffs. Now that the first round is over and the second round match-ups are set, let’s look at what players contributed to their team’s success and may have that memorial play through the playoffs. Now we all know about the Crosby’s, Ovechkin’s and McDavid’s, of course, they are going to lead the way, here I’m talking about the guys like Fernando Pasini of the 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers only 18 goals and 37 points in the regular season but scored 14 goals (5 game-winners) and 18 points in the Oilers cup final run, or maybe Martin Gelinas who had only 35 points in the season but went on to score 8 goals and 15 points for the Calgary Flames during their run to Lord Stanley in 2003-04. Now it’s only the first round but there have been some surprise goal scorers in this year playoffs already and who knows maybe they will become the guy every interviewer wants to talk to after the games instead of Sid the Kid and company.

Bryan Rust

Rust who is a natural RW is playing LW on a line with Malkin and Kessel so some would say yeah this guy should be getting points well that may be true but, in the regular season Rust has only scored in his career 20 goals in 112 games. So far in these Playoffs after only five games he already has four goals with one being a game winner. With a team filled with high talents such as Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, Phil Kessel and Matt Murray no one would think of a guy like Bryan Rust to be second on the team in playoff goal scoring. However, if you look at last year’s Cup winning season for the Penguins you will notice that Rust didn’t have a bad playoff last year either, where he had nine points and six goals in 23 games. Career wise he has half as many goals in 28 playoff games (10) as he does in 112 regular season games.

Derick Brassard

Brassard to some may be a surprise on this list because he is generally a good performer in the regular season and playoffs for the Rangers, but since his trade in the offseason to the Ottawa Senators he has regressed a bit with the Sens totaling only 39 points and 14 goals after coming off a 27 goal season with New York. This year in the playoffs not only has Brassard redeemed himself with the Ottawa faithful and has scored 8 points to lead the Sens in scoring and as of now sits second in scoring in the entire league (tied with Kessel). If he keeps this pace he could almost score as many points in the playoffs as he did in the regular season, as doubtful as that is it’s very possible at this point in time.

Nate Thompson

No this may be a stretch but its hard to pick out a top player in only four games. Thompson only scored two points in 30 regular season games with the Ducks, usually centering the fourth line and not known to be a scoring type guy anyway, but in the four short games he played against Calgary he made up for it. Nate ended up with four points in four games for the Ducks, scoring two goals, one which was a game winner, not bad for a guy centering the third line and only averaging about twelve and a half minutes per game.  It was only four games and he scored three of his points in game three, so let’s not go crazy and think Nate Thompson will lead a run to the Cup but he is someone that we can keep an eye on and see what happens.

Tom Wilson

Not only does Tom have a cool last name but in six games this year has already surpassed his goal and point total of his playoff career. Coming into this playoffs Wilson only had two assists in 28 playoff games, in just six games this year he has three goals. Now three goals may not be something to be excited about but he does lead the team in that category so far, yes he is tied with Ovi, Oshie, and Williams however for a guy who only had seven goals all season, something to watch. With the Capitals expected to make a long run in the playoffs, it will be interesting to see if Tom can score more.

Bobby Ryan

Ryan is another one of those players who shouldn’t be on this list, he was a four-time 30 goal scorer in Anaheim, that never really stayed the same since his move to Ottawa. He never scored more than 23 goals as a Senator and this year had a dismal season scoring only 13 goals and 25 points in 62 games, that all changed when Ottawa clinched a playoff berth and was pitted against the Boston Bruins. Ryan seemed to regain the scoring touch he had with the Ducks and paired on a line with Brassard the two helped Ottawa make short work of the Bruins. Ryan in only six games scored four times and had seven points, one behind team leader Brassard. Could this be the turning point Bobby needs to get back on track? Sens fans certainly hope so.

This is just a short list of some of the players who are not among the elite of their team that seems to be helping make the difference in winning in the playoffs, the only exception is Ryan and Brassard who are supposed to be their team’s top players but had down seasons. Other notable mentions are Oscar Klefbom and Zack Kassian of the Oilers, Jasper Fast of the Rangers, and Colton Sissons of the Predators.

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