NHL Playoffs 2012: 1st-Round Studs and Duds
The first week of the playoffs has come and gone and there are certainly a number of storylines to soak in.
While some series look like they may end quickly, others are still up for grabs and it's hard to predict the outcome.
What we do know thus far is there have been a number of players that have established themselves as clutch performers, and some that need a kick in the rear if their team is to survive.
Some players will have the opportunity to personally set themselves straight, while others are shining in the spotlight.
From what we have seen so far in the postseason, here is a list of "studs" and "duds" in the first round.
Stud: Claude Giroux
There could honestly be about five Flyers on this list, but if you had to chose one, it would have to be this guy.
Nothing like setting a franchise record with six points in Game 2. Scoring a hat trick in that game as well, Claude Giroux has been absolutely on fire.
In three postseason games against the formidable Pittsburgh Penguins, Giroux has four goals and four assists.
The Philadelphia Flyers have a 3-0 series lead.
Look out Conn Smythe, somebody's coming for you.
Dud: Todd Bertuzzi
If the Red Wings are going to go anywhere, players like Todd Bertuzzi need to step up to the plate and contribute.
No points for Bertuzzi in the first three games and the Wings trail the series 2-1. He is minus-three and has one shot on goal. Perhaps he is showing his age, but if the Wings are to compete, Bertuzzi needs to be on the bus and take a shift at the wheel.
Stud: Dustin Brown
Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown took it to the Vancouver Canucks with a hat trick in Game 2 and four goals in his first two games.
His encore in Game 3 on Sunday night? How about rocking Henrik Sedin in the second period and then capping the game off with the game-winner in a 1-0 win?
Brown and goaltender Jonathan Quick are the two biggest reasons the Kings have a 3-0 series lead.
Always a great leader, few expected Brown to be this much of a force offensively in the postseason.
Dud: Chris Kunitz
Pick a Penguin to dump on. Fleury, Malkin or anyone else for that matter. They're getting smoked.
I'll go with Kunitz as the goat though. Yes, he has pumped in a couple of goals, but he took two really bad penalties in Game 3 when the Penguins were desperately trying to stay in the game.
The Flyers scored on each of the ensuing power plays and the game was lost.
Not the right time of the game or the series to be selfish.
Stud: Stephen Weiss
Stephen Weiss is one of the more underrated centers in the league. After three straight 20-goal seasons, he arrived on the playoff scene Sunday night in Game 2 against the New Jersey Devils.
Scoring two goals in a 4-2 win, Weiss put the Florida Panthers back in the series.
The teams are knotted 1-1 headed back to New Jersey.
This is more of a hope than confirmation, but if Weiss can put more games like this together, it would be great to have a playoff hero out of South Florida.
Dud: Roberto Luongo
Poor Bobby Lou. You can't place all the blame on him but still he hasn't been great. He has not been horrible, but has not been good enough to win either of the first two games in Vancouver and his club has lost confidence in him.
Good or bad, love him or hate him, here is the skinny on Roberto Luongo. He was not good enough to start Game 3.
The Canucks appear to be broken, trailing 3-0 in the series against the Kings.
At this point, Roberto Luongo may be the starter for Game 4 in L.A., but it may not make a difference.
Stud: Braden Hotlby
Who cares who the Washington Capitals have in net?
Braden Holtby has earned the Caps a split in Boston against the Bruins. In the process he has only allowed two goals in two games on 74 shots. That's good for a .973 save percentage.
Well done, young man.
The series is still far from over but if Holtby can keep this up, the Caps may just steal it from the B's.
Dud: Milan Lucic
Fans of Milan Lucic...your buddy needs to get going.
Lucic needs to establish himself in the series as he has yet to do so. He has only been able to muster up three shots in the first two games of the series and needs to do a better job of getting to the net.
I like Lucic, always have, but he needs to be a presence and reignite his club.
Stud: Keith Yandle
Keith Yandle is proving to be a big-time hockey player. In the two games in Phoenix, he has three assists and is plus-two.
He has been the best defenseman in the first two games and if he continues this play, the Coyotes will find themselves on the right side of this series.
Dud: Joe Thornton
The San Jose Sharks are in a good position, heading home with the series tied 1-1.
If they are to stay in it, Joe Thornton will need to get on the board. In the first two games in St. Louis, he has no points to show for and is minus-one.
Thornton will be counted on to provide a lot more offense in the games in San Jose.
Stud: Brian Boyle
Although the New York Rangers lost Game 2 to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, Brian Boyle has brought a scoring touch and a lot of muscle to the postseason.
Boyle has been a workhorse, scoring two goals in two games and has a scrap to show for it as well.
Look for Boyle to continue to stir it up for the Rangers in Game 3 in Ottawa.
Dud: Duncan Keith
Take it easy, 'Hawks fans. Sure he has an assist and is plus-one in two games, but the team will need more out of Duncan Keith moving forward.
He was pretty soft on Raffi Torres' game-tying goal in Game 2, has not handled the puck as effectively as he should and has not won many one-on-one battles.
It's early and perhaps I am being a little critical, but the 'Hawks will need the Duncan Keith of 2010 and currently, his in-zone play and turnovers have been subpar.
Let's hope that he gets back after it during the two home games in Chicago. My money says he will.
Stud: Shea Weber
Shea Weber was the best player on the ice in Game 3 against the Wings. For the Nashville Predators to do well, he'll have to be at his best and thus far he has lived up to the hype.
What he did to Henrik Zetterberg was dirty but for better or worse, Gary Bettman and Brendan Shanahan won't suspend a star player in the playoffs. It just ain't gonna happen so let's move on.
He's here to stay and his play has been as good as it gets.
Stud: Jonathan Quick
Ice-cold Jonathan Quick has absolutely stymied the Presidents Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks. He has given up four goals on 115 shots.
After a 41-save performance against the Canucks in Game 3, it is clear that The Kings are a team that nobody wants to face this postseason.
Although the Kings may have been outplayed in two of the three contests in the series, you can't put the puck past the kid from Connecticut.