The 2012 NHL playoffs will soon begin, and the top players pursuing the Stanley Cup are going to elevate their game to new heights.
Everything that happened during the regular season is well in the past, and the focus must now turn to winning with the pressure on full blast.
It's not going to be easy for these star players, but they're all fully capable of dominating in the spotlight.
With that said, here's my stat projections for the top players in the 2012 NHL playoffs.
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia
The No. 5 Flyers will face off against their archrival, the No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins.
They'll be looking to Giroux to carry them to victory, and he's definitely going to help the Flyers be in position to advance.
Of course, Giroux will have his hands full, but he's got the talent to succeed. He was third in the NHL with 93 points, and he'll continue to perform at a high level for Philadelphia.
Who Will Win?
First round Prediction: 3 goals, 7 points
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh
While Sidney Crosby gets much of the hype in the NHL world, the real hero for the Penguins this year has been Malkin.
The Pittsburgh center led the league by far with 109 points. Second place was at 97. Malkin was also second in the NHL in goals scored with 50.
For the playoffs, Malkin will be heavily relied upon, and he's not going to disappoint.
First round Prediction: 4 goals, 9 points
Jonathan Toews, Chicago
The No. 6 Blackhawks have the difficult task of trying for the upset against the No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes.
Chicago will look to Toews to carry them throughout the round, hoping he stays healthy enough to last. His numbers aren't overly impressive, but that's mainly because he hasn't played since February. Towes is still a phenomenal player.
Should he play, he'll dominate for Chicago. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup two years ago. Toews also has 46 points in 46 playoff games, which is incredibly remarkable.
First round Prediction: 2 goals, 5 points
Alex Ovechkin, Washington
The No. 7 Capitals will have a hard time against the defending champs and No. 2 Boston Bruins, but things will be easier if their star continues his hot streak.
While it's been a down year for Ovechkin, there is no denying his talents. Ovechkin scored 11 goals in his final 13 games this year, which is proof that he's extremely dangerous.
It remains to be seen which Ovechkin will show up in the playoffs, but I think he'll rise up and make sure he helps his team push the Bruins to the limits.
Who Will Score the Most Goals in the First Round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs?
First round Prediction: 5 goals, 8 points
Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey
The No. 6 Devils take on the No. 3 Florida Panthers, and Kovalchuk has the ability to make this upset happen.
Sure, it will be challenging, but a strong performance from him will help carry New Jersey far in the NHL playoffs.
Kovalchuk was fifth in the league with 83 points on the year. He scored 37 goals and had 46 assists. Look for him to be on his A-game throughout the first round, helping the Devils thrive over the Panthers.
First round Prediction: 2 goals, 6 points