Somebody stop Bryce Salvador—if you can.
A year after missing an entire NHL campaign due to a cochlear concussion, and following a 2011-12 regular season where he assisted on nine goals but scored none of his own, the Brandon, Manitoba native and long-serving defenseman has proven to be a viable threat from the left point for the New Jersey Devils.
Through 23 Stanley Cup playoff games this spring, Salvador, 36, has recorded four goals and 10 assists for 14 points, including the game-winning goal at the Prudential Center on Saturday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, as the Devils cut the Los Angeles Kings' lead to three games to two.
The Devils will look to remain alive tonight at Game 6 at the Staples Center, and another point or two along the way from the stay-at-home Salvador would be a boon.
Not that the normally physical, shot-blocking defenseman can explain his newfound playoff scoring prowess.
"I went 82 games without scoring, so any goal I can take, I'm taking it," quipped the 6'2", 220-pound Salvador (via ESPN) after Game 5. "I think whenever you can contribute on the score sheet, you enjoy it."
He hasn't been scoring on booming slap shots, either. His shots have been merely a flick of the wrists from the blue line that glances off a friendly or opposing player or stick, and into the confines of the enemy cage, often at key times for the Devils.
Such was the case on Saturday night in Newark when Salvador, an 11-year NHL veteran, took a cross-ice pass at the left point, waited out Los Angeles forward Jordan Nolan, and then whipped the puck towards Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, with the Devils' David Clarkson battling in front. The disk glanced off of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and inside the far post to give New Jersey a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish. This, coupled with Martin Brodeur's acrobatics in the New Jersey net, kept the Eastern Conference champs alive for at least one more game.
"He's been playing great for us," said Devils captain Zach Parise, who scored New Jersey's first goal on Saturday, of Salvador. "We know when the game is on the line, we need to protect a lead, he's going to be out there for us. We all trust what he does, and that's important."
Including lately, when he lets one fly from the point.