NHL Playoff Schedule 2012: Disappointing Game 1 Players Who Must Step Up
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The NHL playoffs have started and players have already disappointed their teams. If their teams are going to win, the following players are going to need to step it up after disappointing performances.
Evgeni Malkin was the Penguins' best player during the regular season. He scored 50 goals for the first time in his career to go along with 59 assists, totaling a league-leading 109 points.
In the Penguins' first two playoff games against the Philadelphia Flyers, Malkin has only two assists and is a minus-five. While teammate Sidney Crosby has scored in both games, Malkin has failed to put the puck in the net even once.
If the Penguins are going to come back from being down 0-2 in their first-round series, Malkin needs to return to his regular-season form.
The only chance the Penguins have at winning this series is if both Malkin and Crosby are running on all cylinders.
With twin brother Daniel Sedin sidelined with a concussion, Henrik needs to take control of the struggling Vancouver Canucks offense.
Who will step it up in their next game?
Henrik has only two assists in the Canucks' two losses to the L.A. Kings.
While Roberto Luongo has struggled to keep the puck out of the net, the Canucks' offense has only scored two goals in each game. Henrik is known as one of the best setup men in the league and needs to lead the offense by not only setting up his teammates, but he needs to score, too.
The Canucks have one of the best power players in the league, but so far in two games against the Kings, they are 0-for-10 on the power play.
It isn’t a surprise that the Canucks are struggling after they had a long run in the playoffs last year. Henrik needs to be the driving force behind the offense if they want to turn the series around.
The Washington Capitals new defense-first philosophy under head coach Dale Hunter worked to a degree in the first game against the Bruins. However, Alexander Ovechkin needs to be an offensive force if the philosophy is going to work going forward.
With only one shot on goal, Ovechkin needs to work at getting in better positions for his teammates to feed him the puck. Furthermore, it is unacceptable for Ovechkin, the Capitals' best offensive player, to have another game with one only one shot on net.
Ovechkin needs to convince Hunter that in order to get into a groove, he needs more ice time than the 17:34 he got in the first game.
Ovechkin also needs to make things happen on his own by continuing to be a physical presence, knocking the opposition off the puck and being a dominant forechecker.
In the Game 1 loss, Halak had a decent performance, only letting in three goals. However, if the St. Louis Blues are going to have success in the Stanley Cup playoffs Halak needs to play at an MVP level.
The Blues were a great defensive team during the regular season, only allowing 1.89 goals per game. They have two great goalies in Halak and Brian Elliott, but if either slips the Blues will struggle to win since their offense lacks natural playmakers. Aside from the L.A. Kings and the Florida Panthers, the Blues are the worst offensive teams in the playoffs.
Halak started in the first game against the San Jose Sharks and even though he had a great regular season, Elliott was even better.
If Halak wants to continue to be the starter in the playoffs and if the Blues want to beat the Sharks, Halak needs to be even better than he was in Game 1.
In his first year in Florida, Tomas Fleischmann has become the best offensive player for the Southeast-winning Florida Panthers.
Fleischmann had the best year of his career, scoring 27 goals and logging 34 assists for 61 points.
In Game 1, Fleischmann has one assist, but he only had two shots on net. If the Panthers are going to defeat the New Jersey Devils, they need to continue to play good defense, but they need to score more against future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur.
Fleischmann needs to be the spark that ignites the Panthers' offense. If Fleischmann and the Panthers don’t score more in Game 2, the Panthers will leave home down 0-2.
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