Former NHL Stars Proving to Be Past Their Prime in 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Stanley Cup playoffs provide hockey fans with a spectacle that tends to reveal the current state of NHL standouts. Some players are just beginning their journey in the pros, while others are entering the twilight portion of accomplished careers.
Here, we focus on the latter.
Father Time and several seasons of severe collisions eventually take a toll on all talented athletes, regardless of the sport. Although the lockout-shortened season provided aging veterans with an opportunity to preserve some gas in the tank, it quickly becomes apparent when a player is running on fumes at this stage of spring.
That's not to say these players can't still help their team advance in the postseason (with the exception of a down-and-out goalie who has already been eliminated). These veterans are savvy and provide leadership in the locker room, but it's clear each one can't be counted on to provide the same production of past years.
Brenden Morrow, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a stacked roster, loaded with veterans looking to make one last push to the Stanley Cup. Brenden Morrow is among the most aged of this bunch.
The 34-year-old left winger tallied 25 points during the regular season but is struggling to keep up with his compatriots in first-round action against eighth-seeded New York. The former Dallas Stars stalwart has an assist and a minus-three rating in four games versus the Islanders.
When you watch Morrow play about 16 minutes per game, it's difficult to imagine that he is physically capable of helping carry Pittsburgh's attack deep into the postseason. Fortunately, the Penguins have a plethora of offensive contributors in case he is unable to shake out of an early playoff funk.
This is Morrow's first playoff appearance since 2008, when he racked up 15 points with the Stars.
Evgeni Nabokov, New York Islanders
The 37-year-old netminder made a name for himself in San Jose, where he started at least four games in seven different postseason appearances. Now anchoring the back end of New York's defense, times are tough for the Sharks' leader in nearly every goaltending category.
Nabokov has been overwhelmed against Pittsburgh's potent offensive attack through four games in the first round. In Game 1, he allowed five goals before the midpoint of the second period and was pulled.
His save percentage this postseason is below 85 percent, and a 4.56 GAA won't win any team a playoff series. Although he helped New York reach its first spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2007, it's hard to imagine him sticking around with the Islanders beyond this run.
Mikael Samuelsson, Detroit Red Wings
Mikael Samuelsson enjoyed the two best years of his career in Vancouver, tallying consecutive 50-point campaigns in 2009-10 and 2010-11. When the Detroit Red Wings re-signed him last summer, the team was likely looking for more from the veteran forward.
He was hampered by injuries throughout his 12th NHL season. At this stage in Samuelsson's career, his play is a far cry from how he performed during the Canucks' run to a Stanley Cup title appearance in 2011.
The 36-year-old tallied 159 points with Detroit between 2005 and 2009 but hasn't been a factor in his latest postseason go-round. Samuelsson has six shots in two games against Anaheim but nothing to show for those efforts.
He owns 58 career playoff points, including 35 as a Red Wing, but it's a reach to think he's ready to make an impact in his latest postseason foray.
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
Roberto Luongo keyed Vancouver's journey to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final but didn't come close to shouldering the load this spring. He was about as underwhelming as the entire team in a stunning series-sweep at the hands of San Jose.
The 34-year-old lost his starting gig to Cory Schneider during the regular season, going 9-6-3 in 18 starts. He made three appearances against the Sharks, starting two matchups.
Luongo let in six San Jose goals and lost both of his starts. He is now 32-31 in the playoffs but 0-4 in the postseason since winning those 32 games between 2007 and 2011.
Jaromir Jagr, Boston Bruins
The legendary right winger surprised many with an impressive regular season, accumulating 35 points in 45 games split between Dallas and Boston. The short schedule was kind to the 41-year-old, who won a pair of Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh before some of his Bruins teammates were even alive.
Jaromir Jagr has sputtered a bit in the playoffs. He has a minus-one rating and one assist against Toronto. It's also obvious he isn't skating with the same speed he displayed in Dallas just a couple of months ago.
It's slightly reminiscent of his 2012 postseason performance in Philadelphia, when he was simply gassed and playing on tired legs. Jagr has more steam left than last year because of a limited regular season, but don't be surprised if his numbers end up similar to 2012 (one goal, minus-five rating in 11 games).
Nothing to be ashamed of on Jagr's end. He's been a man with great staying power in this league for a long time. But as the tread continues to wear on his tires, he becomes a shell of the superstar he once was.