NHL Playoffs 2013: Best Players Competing for Stanley Cup This Postseason

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NHL Playoffs 2013: Best Players Competing for Stanley Cup This Postseason
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

With the 2013 NHL playoffs beginning, fans will see some of the biggest stars the NHL has to offer competing for the Stanley Cup this postseason, with one exception.

One notable player who we may not see is Sidney Crosby, as his status for the playoffs is still unknown following a broken jaw (via ESPN). 

Which of the NHL's brightest stars will be taking the ice this NHL postseason?

 

Alexander Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

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Alexander Ovechkin will head the third-seeded Washington Capitals against the sixth-seeded New York Rangers. As the Caps' official Twitter account notes, Ovechkin had himself one heck of a season in 2013.

To go with the 32 goals, Ovechkin dished 24 assists to finish tied for third with Sidney Crosby in points. Only Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos had better point seasons than No. 8.

Ovechkin will truly be tested against the Rangers in the first round. In three games against New York this season, the left winger has notched just one goal and one assist while seeing the Rangers beat the Capitals twice.

As one of the league's biggest stars, Ovechkin certainly lived up to his star-studded hype during his 2013 campaign.

 

Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins

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The fourth-seeded Boston Bruins enter the 2013 NHL playoffs boasting the third-best goals against average, and although a defensive force like Zdeno Chara is partly to thank, so is netminder Tuukka Rask.

Rask has been one of the most productive goaltenders this season. See for yourself:

Category Production NHL Rank
Wins 19 T-11th
Goals Against Average 1.94 4th
Save Percentage .930 3rd
Shutouts 5 T-1st

Rask lost just nine games this season and is a big reason why Boston finished as a top four team in the Eastern Conference despite ranking 28th in power-play percentage. Without a top-tier scorer this season, the Bruins needed Rask to step up and he definitely did.

Rask enters the NHL postseason with shutouts in two of his last three games—wins over the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

As a potential Vezina trophy winner in 2013, Rask is the key for the Bruins in their Stanley Cup championship run.

 

Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Former Stanley Cup champion Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks are seeking their second championship in four years. Kane finished the season as the leading point scorer for his team.

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In fact, Kane finished fifth in the NHL in points, scoring 23 goals and dishing 32 assists. The 24-year-old notched 13 points during April and enters the postseason with eight points in his last five games.

The right winger was a big part of Chicago's 24-game point streak—a streak that saw the Blackhawks finish with the best record in the NHL (36-7-5) and the top seed in the Western Conference.

Kane's Blackhawks also boast the league's best goal differential with a plus-53 mark and enter the playoffs with the No. 1 goals-against mark and second-best scoring offense, averaging 3.1 goals per game.

 

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