One Player Every 2013 NHL Playoff Team Needs to Step Up
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The 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs are off to an amazing start, but there are players from playoff contenders like Brad Richards of the New York Rangers, Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and the Sedins from the Vancouver Canucks who need to step up for their teams.
These players also happen to be playing in series where their teams are trailing, and it is a sign that these players need to step up their game.
There are also some players on successful teams who have played average hockey, and their teams would benefit if they could step up their game. While some players have been very good thus far, here is one player from each 2013 playoff team who needs to step up their game.
Anaheim Ducks: Corey Perry
Perry is one of the Ducks' top offensive players.
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Corey Perry signed a mega-contract to remain a member of the Anaheim Ducks for the next eight years, but he hasn't had the greatest start to the playoffs. He has one point so far for the Ducks, and he is a player the Ducks need to produce offensively.
Perry is a skilled scoring forward, but the Ducks need him to step up if they want to be successful going forward.
Boston Bruins: Tyler Seguin
Seguin needs to get going for the Bruins.
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Tyler Seguin is one of the Boston Bruins' top young players, and thus far he hasn't contributed in the team's series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Seguin is a skilled player who is in his third year in the NHL, and at this point he is a valuable member of the team's lineup.
Seguin has a ton of time to turn things around, but if he gets things going soon, the Bruins will certainly benefit.
Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad
Saad needs to get his game going in the playoffs.
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Brandon Saad had an amazing rookie season, but thus far in the playoffs he has been kept off the scoreboard. Saad is a member of the Blackhawks' top line yet hasn't been able to get things going offensively.
Right now, the Blackhawks have had contributions from Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and some of their bottom six forwards, but the team could really use Saad's production as the playoffs continue.
Detroit Red Wings: Niklas Kronwall
Kronwall needs to get his game going.
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Niklas Kronwall is one of the Detroit Red Wings' top defenders, but he hasn't played like one thus far against the Anaheim Ducks. Kronwall is pointless, he has a minus-three rating, and he hasn't been as physical as he usually is.
The Red Wings are going to need Kronwall to be a top player if they want to be successful in the playoffs, and they need him to step up his game sooner rather than later.
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick
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Jonathan Quick has not played well against the St. Louis Blues, and he is a one reason why they are trailing the series 2-1. For as good as Quick as been at keeping a game close like he was in a Game 3 shutout, Quick allowed two soft game-winning goals in Games 1 and 2.
Those moments have really impacted this series, and they are the reason why the Kings are trailing in this series. However, if Quick can play like he did in Game 3 for the rest of the series, the Kings will be fine. Hopefully this is a sign of better things to come.
Minnesota Wild: Zach Parise
Parise needs to step up for the Wild.
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Zach Parise was brought in as a free agent to add scoring and offense to the Minnesota Wild, and he hasn't been producing for the team so far in the playoffs. He has zero points, he is a minus-three, and he has not been playing some of his best hockey.
Last year he played in the Stanley Cup Final, so he understands what playoff pressure is like. He needs to step up his game if the Wild are going to have a chance against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Montreal Canadiens: Tomas Plekanec
Plekanec needs to play like a top-six center.
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Tomas Plekanec is one of the Montreal Canadiens' top centers, and he hasn't played that well thus far against the Ottawa Senators. Plekanec has a lone assist, and he is a minus-two through two games.
With injuries to players like Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty, Plekanec is going to need to elevate his game if the Canadiens want to move on in the playoffs.
New York Islanders: John Tavares
Tavares needs to breakout for the Isles.
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John Tavares is the New York Islanders' best player, but he hasn't been that effective yet. He is getting outplayed physically, and he has taken some bad penalties.
He has an assist and is a minus-one through two games. Tavares needs to get his game going if the Islanders are going to upset the Pittsburgh Penguins, and maybe Game 3 at home will help him do that.
Update: Thus far in Game 3 Tavares has been a factor for the Islanders, and he is going to need to keep this up for the rest of the series.
New York Rangers: Brad Richards
Richards needs to step up.
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Brad Richards is a player who is known for his proficiency in the playoffs, but thus far he has not played well. Down the stretch of the regular season, Richards was playing his best hockey, but he has not played well against the Washington Capitals.
He needs to be moving his feet more, he has to be more decisive with the puck, and he has to start shooting more. When Richards is decisive and confident with the puck, he is an elite player, but he hasn't done that so far against the Capitals.
Ottawa Senators: Sergei Gonchar
Gonchar needs to step up his game for the Sens.
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Sergei Gonchar is an offensive defender who has a cannon of a point shot, but he hasn't been able to contribute offensively so far against the Montreal Canadiens. Gonchar has zero points, he has six penalty minutes, and he has played 21:20 a game against Montreal.
Erik Karlsson is obviously the team's top defender, but if Gonchar could step up his game, the Senators' blue line would become more of an offensive threat.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Brenden Morrow
Morrow was traded from Dallas at the deadline.
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Brenden Morrow was a trade-deadline acquisition by GM Ray Shero, and he was a player who started contributing down the stretch for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Thus far against the New York Islanders, Morrow hasn't been as physical or effective as he was in the games leading up to the playoffs.
Morrow's foot speed is below average, and he is going to need to get back into the dirty areas of the ice if he wants to get involved offensively.
San Jose Sharks: TJ Galiardi
Galiardi has 14 points as a third liner in 2012-13.
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The San Jose Sharks' roster has had contributions from their top players thus far, but TJ Galiardi is a player who could step up. Galiardi is a top-nine forward who chipped in limited secondary offense during the regular season, and he is a two-way forward who can help make a difference.
He is an energy player who can help swing momentum for his team, and if he steps up, the Sharks' lineup will become tougher to shut down as the playoffs continue.
St. Louis Blues: T.J. Oshie
Oshie needs to shoot the puck more.
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T.J. Oshie is a player who can be a valuable secondary scorer for the St. Louis Blues, but he hasn't put himself in offensive situations against the Los Angeles Kings.
Oshie had 20 points in 30 games this season, but against the Kings, he is pointless. Oshie has also taken only one shot, and that could explain why he hasn't been more of an offensive contributor thus far.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Phil Kessel
Kessel needs to step up against Boston.
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Phil Kessel is the Toronto Maple Leafs' best player, and he needs to elevate his game against the Boston Bruins. Kessel has not played well against his former team since being traded to the Maple Leafs, but there is no excuse for him to be invisible on the ice.
He was able to finally score a goal in Game 3, but he needs to continue to play better for the Leafs going forward. If he can sustain the momentum he gained in Game 3 for the rest of the series, the Leafs may have a chance to upset the Bruins.
Vancouver Canucks: Daniel and Henrik Sedin
Both Sedins need to step up.
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The Sedins are two of the Vancouver Canucks' best players, and both usually mirror each other's play. Thus far both Sedins have not played well, and they are in a 2-0 hole against the San Jose Sharks.
During the NBC Sports intermission report of Game 2, the Sedins were called out for their poor performance, and Mike Keenan stated that the Canucks need them to step up their play. If the Sedins don't elevate their play, they could become the victim of a first-round upset.
Washington Capitals: Troy Brouwer
Brouwer had played OK, but he could needs to be better.
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The Washington Capitals have played well to take a 2-0 lead against the New York Rangers, but one of the Capitals' top players could really step up to help carry the load offensively. Troy Brouwer had an amazing regular season with 33 points in 47 games, but he hasn't produced for the Capitals thus far in the playoffs.
He is a physical player who also kills penalties, but he is now looked upon to be a top contributor in the Caps lineup. If Brouwer can get his game going, it will add another dimension to the team's overall depth and offense.