NHL Playoffs 2012: 1 Hero and 1 Goat from Each Playoff Series so Far

Keegan McNallyCorrespondent IIMay 1, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: 1 Hero and 1 Goat from Each Playoff Series so Far

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    We're only two games into each second-round series of the NHL playoffs, but already, the playoff duds and studs are showing up for all eight teams.

    While some players, like Danny Briere, are elevating their game in order to benefit their teams, there are certain players who just can't get acclimated to the fast-paced rhythm of second-round action.

    Defensive lapses, five-holes that just won't close or a lack of offensive production mark these players' games so far.

Washington vs. New York: Hero (Brad Richards), Goat (Dennis Wideman)

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    Brad Richards has been picking apart Braden Holtby and the Capitals. With six shots, two goals and an assist in two games, Richards is showing why he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2003-04.

    His contributions over the next few games between these two clubs will be a major determinant in the success of the Rangers.

    Dennis Wideman, on the other hand, is the definitive goat of this series. If you see the above picture appear during an NBC telecast, don't consider yourself special; it happens about twice per game.

    Whether it be a bad pinch or just being out of position, Wideman has contributed zero points, only two shots and a minus-two rating in two games for the Capitals. 

    In general, Dennis Wideman may be the worst Capital on the ice so far this year, having only contributed a single point through nine games—terrible for an "offensive" defenseman. 

Nashville vs. Phoenix: Hero (Ray Whitney), Goat (Alexander Radulov)

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    Ray Whitney may be at the ripe old age of 39, but his drive for Lord Stanley is alive and well.

    So far, in two games for the Coyotes, he has a game-winning OT goal and two assists. He is definitely the hero of this series thus far, as Phoenix is up, 2-0, over the heavily favored Nashville Predators. 

    Alexander Radulov, however, may be on his first plane back to the KHL after this series is over.

    Up to this point, he has contributed just one assist and a minus-three rating, along with numerous defensive lapses. He was ripped apart on NBC for his piss-poor play. 

    Oh, but that's not all.

    It was reported today that he will be missing Game 3 for violating team rules. This is a prime example of yet another one of Radulov's selfish mistakes.

    So much for the next Alex Ovechkin. Am I right? 

Philadelphia vs. New Jersey: Hero (Danny Briere), Goat (Ilya Bryzgalov)

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    Danny Briere proved he is the magic man, scoring twice in sudden-death OT in Game 1.

    Okay, fine, his first goal may have been waved off, but it was still an impressive outing.

    Briere is one of the best playoff performers since the lockout and can be expected to continue to contribute to the Flyers' success.

    Ilya Bryzgalov might as well staple the word goat on his jersey. 

    Although he may have gotten away with poor play in the Pittsburgh series, Bryzgalov really needs to start playing better and earning his paycheck in this series.

    So far, he is letting in an even 3.00 goals per game. Against the stingy Devils, it isn't a good idea to force your offense into scoring four goals to win. 

Los Angeles vs. St. Louis: Hero (Dustin Penner), Goat (Patrik Berglund)

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    Dustin Penner is finally proving his worth on the L.A. Kings' roster. 

    With a goal and three assists in only two games against one of the best defenses in the league in St. Louis, Penner is on fire.

    Look for his confidence to continually be a source of strength for the Kings down the stretch.

    The St. Louis Blues definitely have more than a few goats on their roster at this point. Down 2-0, the Blues need scoring, and fast.

    Patrik Berglund absolutely dominated in the first five games against the San Jose Sharks, but is now looking nonexistent in this second-round series. 

    He posted seven points in the first-round series against the Sharks, but has gone pointless in his last two against the Kings.

    Unless Berglund and a whole slew of other Blues start scoring, they might as well say goodbye to Lord Stanley this year.