The Most Clutch Superstars in 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The NHL postseason provides an opportunity for premier performers to display their greatness on the game's grandest stage. With the Stanley Cup in sight, some players simply step up and lead the surge.
Those are the athletes we focus on here. Clutch playoff performances defined the legacies of Hall of Famers like Patrick Roy and Mark Messier, who spearheaded numerous squads during scintillating runs to league titles.
The 2013 NHL postseason tournament is packed with a plethora of elite talent. Some stars have already solidified themselves as legendary team leaders, while others can seize the spotlight by succeeding at the sport's highest level and advancing deep into the playoffs.
Here's a look at some of the superstars you should keep a close eye on when the spotlight shines brightest.
Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks
After all these years, Selanne is still the man in Anaheim. The 19-year NHL veteran has spent the majority of his career doing everything he can to make the Ducks championship contenders.
When the team claimed its first Stanley Cup in 2007, Selanne led the charge. He tallied 15 points during the postseason, one of four times the 42-year-old has accumulated a double-digit point total in the playoffs.
Selanne is the all-time franchise leader in game-winning goals and overtime scores.
The Sedins, Vancouver Canucks
Sure, it's a bit cliche to bunch these two together, but why pick just one? Daniel and Henrik, the Canucks' pair of Swedish standouts, produce at a prolific rate.
They play off each other tremendously and have spent the past decade picking opponents apart with elite pass precision and finishing capabilities. The duo combined for 85 points during the shortened regular season, continuing their collaborative clobbering of Western Conference opponents.
The Sedins led Vancouver to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Boston edged the Canucks in a thrilling seven-game series, and the brothers believe they have unfinished business to take care of together in the playoffs.
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
The 40-year-old has never worn any NHL uniform devoid of the Senators' logo. The Ottawa icon claimed the 2012 King Clancy Trophy, an award annually given to the league's greatest team leader.
Alfredsson owns 69 career game-winning goals, a total that ranks him 42nd in NHL history. He holds franchise playoff records for most games played, goals, assists and points.
In his 16th season with the team, Alfredsson finished second on the Senators in goals.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
When you're the youngest player in NHL history to score a Stanley Cup-winning goal, you land on a list like this. At the tender age of 21, Kane connected on a title-clinching goal in overtime to defeat Philadelphia in the 2010 finals.
His shot snapped the franchise's 49-year Stanley Cup drought and instantly made the former No. 1 overall draft pick a member of Chicago sports royalty. Now 24, Kane finished the regular season with the league's fifth-highest point total (55).
Jaromir Jagr, Boston Bruins
A shortened season did wonders for the 41-year-old. Jagr tallied 35 points in 45 games, splitting his 18th NHL campaign between Dallas and Boston.
Last spring, it was clear he ran out of gas in Philly. Following a hot start to the 2011-12 season, Jagr's production tailed off considerably, and when the playoffs arrived, he looked like a shell of his former self.
With less mileage on his legs this time around, Boston's hopes for a second Stanley Cup in three seasons were bolstered by the acquisition of Jagr.
The two-time league champion is tied with Phil Esposito for the all-time greatest total of game-winning goals (118).
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
Zetterberg is Detroit's active leader in game-winning goals and has tallied more postseason points (102) than any player currently on the Red Wings. The nine-year pro was tied for 13th in the NHL in points (48) during the 2013 regular season.
He elevated his efforts throughout the latter stages of the season, when the squad made a strong push to solidify its 22nd straight playoff appearance. During Detroit's season-closing four-game win streak, Zetterberg tallied two goals and eight assists.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
No player in the NHL annually carries more weight on his shoulders than Ovechkin, who is still seeking an elusive lengthy postseason run. Still just 27 years old, he was once again an absolute monster during the regular season.
In 48 games, Ovechkin collected 32 goals and 24 assists. As he continued to settle in at the right wing, the Caps' catalyst exploded for 36 points in the final 23 games of the regular season.
The NHL's leading scorer helped Washington lock up the third seed in an intriguingly wide-open Eastern Conference bracket. The Russian superstar owns more overtime goals than any player in Capitals history.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
The 27-year-old goalkeeper wasn't dominant during the regular season (18-13-4 with a 2.45 GAA), but it's impossible to ignore what Quick accomplished during the 2012 playoffs. He posted a 1.41 GAA and three shutouts as the eighth-seeded Kings shocked the NHL en route to the franchise's first Stanley Cup.
Prior to his 16-4 playoff run last year, Quick owned a 4-8 career postseason record, so his upcoming opening-round performance against St. Louis will be compelling to watch. The 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner will deal with "one-hit wonder" allegations if he fails to improve on a pedestrian regular-season performance.
Quick was the ultimate clutch player throughout the 2012 playoffs. It's time to see if he can recapture the magic.