5 NHL Players Who Must Step Up to Get Their Teams into the Stanley Cup Playoffs

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5 NHL Players Who Must Step Up to Get Their Teams into the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The final stretch race of the 2013 regular season is on.

Two intense playoff races in both conferences will conclude this weekend, as 26 teams play Saturday before Ottawa and Boston close out the season Sunday evening.

Teams who have already fought and clawed for position over the past 45, 46 or 47 games must still elevate their execution to yet another level, finishing off the regular season with one desperate rush for the playoffs.

What could make the difference in each conference's bubble competition as this exhausting week wears down? It could all come down to just a few individual players—a few individual players who haven't been the game-changers they were expected to be this spring—finding their "A" game, at last, and pushing their clubs into a postseason spot. 

On the coming slides, we point out and break down five potential stars, in particular, who must step up their game with the pressure on in the regular season's last days.

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