2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs logo2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Playoffs 2012: Top 5 Blue-Collar Rookies

Mike BurseCorrespondent IApril 24, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: Top 5 Blue-Collar Rookies

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    The NHL playoffs are a time when veterans are valued beyond their skills for their leadership and experience.  Even some veteran NHL players can tear up the regular season and falter in the playoffs due to their mental makeup. With this in mind, a rookie in the playoffs is often looked at like a screen door on a submarine with the question: Why is it there?

    In the playoffs, blue collar players are an essential element of any team with Stanley Cup aspirations. Normally grizzled veterans fill the roles of hitting, blocking shots and creating turnovers for cup contenders. However, some rookies have the right mentality that allows them to be very valuable come playoff time.

    Here are the top-five blue collar rookies from the first round.

     

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    All statistics from NHL.com.

Tommy Wingels

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    He is a 6’0”, 190-pound center for the San Jose Sharks. He was drafted in the sixth round, 177th in 2008.

    He did all he could to help the San Jose Sharks move onto the second round, but the Blues were simply too good defensively. The Sharks will have some tinkering to do in the offseason with their core players, but I am sure General Manager Doug Wilson finds comfort in knowing he has a player like Wingels who is developing into a solid NHLer. For his solid play, Tommy was also rewarded with 53 seconds of power-play ice time on average, per game.

    GP

    HITS

    BKS

    GVA

    TKA

    TOI/G

    5

    17

    3

    0

    0

    10:29

Brayden Schenn

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    He is a 6’1”, 190-pound center for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was drafted in the first round, fifth overall in 2009.

    Much like his teammate Sean Couturier, he has been an essential player during the Flyers' first-round ousting of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Schenn played a tough physical game and got under the skin of many of the Penguins, including Aaron Asham, who was suspended four games for introducing his lumber to Schenn’s face.

    Will Couturier was more trusted at the defensive end while Schenn was used to create chances on the power play. Through the series, he averaged 2:04 minutes of power-play ice time.

    GP

    HITS

    BKS

    GVA

    TKA

    TOI/G

    6

    19

    2

    3

    3

    13:43

Erik Gudbranson

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    He is a 6’5”, 210-pound defenseman for the Florida Panthers. He was drafted in the first round, third overall in 2010.

    The big defenseman has helped the Panthers by exacting a physical toll on the Devils' forwards throughout the series thus far. He has also been trusted as a rookie with 2:13 minutes per game of penalty-killing time.

    Gudbranson is expected to be a big part of the future for Florida, and he is not disappointing in his first NHL playoffs.

    GP

    HITS

    BKS

    GVA

    TKA

    TOI/G

    5

    18

    3

    2

    2

    15:37

Jared Cowen

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    He is a 6’5”, 230-pound defenseman for the Ottawa Senators. He was drafted in the first round, ninth overall in 2009.

    He's averaged 17:43 of ice time per game, with 4:03 of that time coming on the penalty kill, and has been handling some tough assignments during the Senators' first-round series with the New York Rangers. He has been a solid presence on the back end for the Senators and will need to be even better in Game 7 if Ottawa is to take down the Rangers on home ice.

    GP

    HITS

    BKS

    GVA

    TKA

    TOI/G

    6

    26

    6

    1

    1

    17:43

Sean Couturier

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    He is a 6’3”, 197-pound center for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was drafted in the first round, eighth overall in 2011.

    He has been a revelation for the Flyers this year with his solid defensive play. He is one of Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s most trusted defensive forwards at such a young age. This is evidenced by Couturier being assigned the role of checking Evgeni Malkin during the Flyers' first-round series with the Penguins. A rookie shut down the leading goal-scorer and one of the top-five talents in the NHL.

    Couturier also averaged 3:18 minutes of ice time per game while killing penalties in his first NHL postseason series.

    GP

    HITS

    BKS

    GVA

    TKA

    TOI/G

    6

    16

    4

    1

    7

    17:17

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