Power Ranking the Top Stars in the 2013 NHL Playoffs
Almost every 2013 NHL playoff series is three games old now, which means that some of the league's best players have had ample time to impose their game upon the opposition.
It's in the playoffs—and not during the regular season—that the greatest players in the world find a way to elevate their game. Even with the added attention that superstars receive from defenses, they find other ways to influence the outcome of a game.
Whether through winning defensive zone faceoffs, battling and racing for the puck, laying a body check on Zdeno Chara or making a clutch block on a penalty kill, the best players find ways to impact games even when they aren't necessarily scoring.
Of course, it always helps if you're finding the score sheet, too.
10. Patrick Sharp
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 3 GP, 2 G, 1 A, +3, 14 shots
The Chicago Blackhawks can beat opposing teams through various means. Arguably their mot dangerous weapon, however, is their nearly unmatchable depth. Patrick Sharp is part of that depth, and he's one of the reasons that the 'Hawks are so difficult to match up against.
It's really a pick-your-poison situation.
Between Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Sharp, there's really no way an opposing team can snuff them all out at the same time.
For instance, Toews has no points through three games, but it doesn't matter as much when Sharp is playing as well as he is. He's been outstanding on both sides of the puck and already has one game-winning goal to his credit.
9. Logan Couture
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 3 GP, 3 G, 3 A, +1, 8 shots, .647 faceoff percentage
The identity of the San Jose Sharks is evolving before our very eyes.
Heading into the playoffs, if you had asked, "Whose team is the Sharks?" you would have likely received an answer of Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau. After only three postseason games, however, it's evident that San Jose no longer belongs to the old guard.
San Jose is Logan Couture's team now, and it's obvious on every shift.
He exploded on May 5th during Game 3 against the Vancouver Canucks, posting two goals and two assists while almost single-handedly putting his team on the verge of a sweep. The Sharks' top guns have all been stellar.
Few seem to understand the gravity of this playoff run like Couture, though. It's in his body language and the way he responds after goals. He's hungry, and that's contagious.
8. Jarome Iginla
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 3 GP, 1 G, 4 A, 14 PIM, 5 hits, 5 shots
Jarome Iginla is hurting to win a Stanley Cup, and it's evident nearly every time he steps out onto the ice.
He's blended in nicely with Evgeni Malkin, and a few shifts with Sidney Crosby are bound to happen sooner rather than later. He's doing all the little things that are necessary to win a championship and is among the NHL's playoff scoring leaders.
Iginla has been an outstanding addition to an already ridiculous power play, and the Pittsburgh Penguins currently boast the best in the league. As a unit, they are clicking nearly 50 percent of the time. That redefines deadly power play.
The hitting and physical net presence is there, like it always has been, and Iginla has been a big part of Pittsburgh's series against the New York Islanders.
7. John Tavares
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 3 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 9 shots
John Tavares is an exceptional example of how a star player can have a positive impact on his team even when he isn't scoring.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to keep the 22-year-old scoring sensation in check for obvious reasons. He's the best player on the New York Islanders, and by locking him down, it forces one of the other guys to beat you.
So far, the "other guys" that are open because of the attention Tavares garners have been outstanding. Kyle Okposo in particular has thrived in the environment of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the little bit of extra ice that is out there because of the coverage on Tavares has helped.
Tavares had his chances, putting up nine shots so far in the playoffs, and scoring a spectacular game-tying goal late in Game 3. He's been dangerous every time he's had the puck, and the Islanders have been better because of his presence as a constant scoring threat.
6. Ryan Getzlaf
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 3 GP, 2 G, 2 A, +3, 9 hits, 2 shots
The Anaheim Ducks are on the verge of putting the Detroit Red Wings into a 3-1 hole, and Ryan Getzlaf is a huge reason why. The series has been fueled by power-play situations, and so far, the Ducks have been better than the Red Wings in that department—in part because of how good Getzlaf has been with the extra man.
He's posted points in three straight playoff games and hasn't gone without a point in a game since April 19th. That's some incredibly consistent hockey from one of the best power forwards in the NHL.
As usual, Detroit has had a hard time hemming in the 6'4'', 221-pound center. Getzlaf hasn't been a freight train by any means, but he's still been a physical presence, driving to the net and creating opportunities with his size.
He's even been marvelous on the penalty kill and has a short-handed goal to show for his efforts after scoring one in a pivotal Game 3.
5. Alex Ovechkin
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 2 GP, 1 G, 1 A, +1, 12 hits, 12 shots
Twelve hits and 12 shots in two games? That sounds like the Alexander Ovechkin that we all came to know and (perhaps) love after he broke into the NHL in 2005. And that's with Ryan McDonagh in his face for every shift.
He's been a force for the Washington Capitals so far in their first-round series against the New York Rangers. His impact on the early part of this series has been such that it appears the Rangers are more worried about preventing any Ovie scoring chance than generating shots of their own.
The outcome has been predictable.
The Great 8 is still providing copious amounts of offense, and his team has been the better of the two squads through the first two games of this series.
4. Erik Karlsson
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 3 GP, 1 G, 3 A, +5, 4 hits, 8 blocks, 9 shots
So far for the Ottawa Senators, Erik Karlsson has been at the center of everything. Even his costly giveaway in Game 2 doesn't put a dent in what the smooth-skating defenseman has been able to do through three playoff games (per CBSSports.com).
It's been clear at points that Karlsson is worn out, which is to be expected after missing more than 10 weeks due to a severed Achilles tendon. What's mesmerizing is that he has still been the best player on the ice in this series for long stretches.
He's not even at 100 percent and he's playing heads and toes above a guy like P.K. Subban. Which isn't a knock on the supremely talented Montreal Canadiens defender. Rather, it's a testament to how awesome Karlsson has been.
He's the most important skater on the Senators, and they will go as far as he can take them on both sides of the puck. Craig Anderson has a say in all this, but he can't score goals. Yet. Leaving the heavy lifting to Karlsson.
3. Evgeni Malkin
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 3 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 15 shots
The Pittsburgh Penguins have developed one of the most deadly power-play schemes in recent memory, and Evgeni Malkin has been a pronounced component of that group. They are clicking along at nearly 50 percent and have been nearly unstoppable as a group.
Malkin has been deadly every time he touches the puck, returning to his Art Ross form after a so-so (by Geno's standards) regular season.
Along with Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, Malkin rounds out one of the most dangerous forward contingents in the playoffs at this point.
He's been 50/50 in the faceoff circle and dynamic on nearly every shift.
2. Patrick Kane
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 3 GP, 0 G, 5 A, +4, 10 shots
Continuing a trend that started to develop through the 2013 regular season, Patrick Kane has added another angle to his game entirely, as he's suddenly become a premier setup man as well as a dangerous goal scorer.
He's had his head on a swivel against the Minnesota Wild, cutting into the defense with his speed and hands and then finding the open teammate for the easy goal.
It's a tough situation for even the best defenders to be in. If you give a player like Kane space, he can beat you with his speed and shot. If you close on him, he's lately been able to nail his passes tape to tape, generating goals for his teammates.
The Chicago Blackhawks have Stanley Cup aspirations, and if Kane keeps playing the way he is, then they are going to be even more difficult to stop in the playoffs than they were in the regular season.
1. Sidney Crosby
2013 NHL Playoff Stats: 2 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 12 shots, .540 faceoff percentage
He of 56 points in 36 regular-season games is right back at it after missing more than a month with a broken jaw. Sidney Crosby is undoubtedly the best offensive forward in the NHL right now, and anyone watching Game 3 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders understands why.
While scoring two goals in his return to action in Game 2 was impressive, Crosby was unstoppable in Game 3, posting three assists—including one on the game-winner in overtime—and drawing the penalty that led to Chris Kunitz's game winning power-play goal.
He has five points in two playoff games despite not having played a game since the end if March. And all of this despite the face/jaw guard that surely must be effecting his peripheral vision. No one can ever say that a visor would obstruct their vision again after Crosby's recent performance.
The Penguins also have one of the most ridiculous power plays in the NHL right now, and Crosby is at the center of that as well. His vision makes players like Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis look like All-Stars, and the goal-scoring touch is still in place.
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