NHL Playoffs 2012: Each Team's X-Factor as Round 2 Progresses

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Each Team's X-Factor as Round 2 Progresses
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Mike Knuble, here a little bloody, knows what it takes to win.

Obvious players elevated their game when the puck dropped in the 2012 NHL playoffs. 

Flyers star Claude Giroux registered 14 points in only five games in an opening-round victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Power forward Dustin Brown led his Los Angeles Kings to the second round with superb play at both ends of the ice against the heavily-favored Vancouver Canucks. 

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist surrendered three goals only twice in seven games to help his New York Rangers hold off the Ottawa Senators in Round 1.

Fans expected these star players to perform night after night. Fans expected big goals and seemingly impossible saves from these elite players.

Often the players who avert the watchful eye of attentive fans account for the difference between a championship and yet another long offseason.

These players make the difference in a seven-game playoff series.

Sure, the highlight-reel goals help win championships, but the players who do the little things that go seemingly unnoticed by most spectators propel teams to victory.

Superstars sell tickets; role players win championships. Blocking shots, winning loose pucks and battles along the boards, clearing the front of the net, screening the goaltender and giving everything on every shift ultimately wins in the playoffs.

The selfless player willing to sacrifice, shift in and shift out, ensures his team comes out on top at the sound of the final buzzer.

Every team needs an unsung hero. That player makes all the difference.

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