The 2012 NHL Playoffs are almost upon us, and two months of uncharted drama now lie ahead for the 16 teams in this year's postseason field.
For each and every one of those squads, their plan for the upcoming weeks of playoff action will be fairly similar to the strategy that got them here—steadfast goaltending, high-octane scoring and veteran leadership.
But for those few squads that do end up making a glorious run into the late stages of May, they'll do so by receiving contributions from every single member of their team—from the flashiest superstars to the most underrated grinders.
In truth, the X-factors that really separate a Stanley Cup contender from just another one-and-done playoff qualifier are not the best players on a team; rather, they're those who emerge out of the shadows only when the calendar turns to April.
Which unheralded players will step up to the plate and deliver when crunch time arrives? That's a question that will take some time to fully answer, but make sure to keep at least one eye on these five guys as the postseason moves along.