1 Thing We've Learned About Each of the Top Stars in the NHL Playoffs
The NHL is full of top stars. During the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, we learned that Alex Ovechkin can't get the Washington Capitals over the hump, Sidney Crosby is doing just fine with his modified helmet and the Chicago Blackhawks can win even if Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane don't score.
There are a number of stars who had a great series, and there are some who had a bad series. Here is one thing we've learned about each of the top stars in the playoffs.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf
Corey Perry went goalless in the Anaheim Ducks' series against the Detroit Red Wings, and we learned that when Perry is a non-factor, the Ducks generally are unsuccessful.
Perry had a very bad playoff outing. If he'd been able to contribute, the Ducks could have beaten the Red Wings in the first round.
What we learned about Ryan Getzlaf is that he was truly giving his all during the playoffs, even though his numbers don't reflect that. It was revealed by general manager Bob Murray that Getzlaf had been playing with an ankle injury, and the injury could explain his lack of production.
Both these stars signed mega-extensions during the regular season, and it is fair to say that management was expecting them to lead the Ducks past the first round. Things didn't work out this year, but they each have eight more years left to make it happen.
Tyler Seguin is one of the Boston Bruins' top players, and during the first round, we learned that Seguin had a case of bad puck luck. Seguin took 29 shots against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he failed to score a single goal.
Seguin made multiple efforts to contribute offensively, but he was just unable to get a puck past James Reimer. The Bruins will need him to step up against the New York Rangers.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane
Both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane had a rough first round by their standards, and both scored zero goals against the Minnesota Wild. The Blackhawks advanced to the second round because other players stepped up, and we learned how valuable these players are to the Blackhawks offense.
When both players are firing on all cylinders, the Blackhawks are an unstoppable force. They'll be harder to beat when Toews and Kane are at the top of their games.
P.K. Subban was a top player for the Montreal Canadiens all year, and despite the team's early exit from the playoffs, we learned that he is going to become a wealthy man very soon. Subban had an amazing regular season. Then he stepped his game up in the playoffs.
Subban had four points in five games, and he played a lot of important minutes for the Canadiens. He signed a two-year deal earlier this year, and the Habs can negotiate a new deal starting in July.
Given Subban's value to the Canadiens, he is going to hit the jackpot very soon.
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg
In the Western Conference quarterfinals, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were able to rebound from a slow start to the playoffs. Through both players' hard work and perseverance, we learned that Zetterberg and Datsyuk play pivotal roles in the success of the Detroit Red Wings.
In the past, it was thought that Nicklas Lidstrom was the Wings' most important player, but Zetterberg and Datsyuk have illustrated their importance to the team.
Early in the series, these players struggled, but when they elevated their game late in the series, the Red Wings were able to rally. Against the Chicago Blackhawks, both players will need to step up.
Zach Parise scored a single goal in five games during a first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, and we learned that he misses having a player like Ilya Kovalchuk on his line that can help carry the offense.
In the playoffs with the New Jersey Devils, Parise never had to be the one guy to carry the team. He always had players such as Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias.
During the first round, it was clear how much pressure Parise was under. He was constantly being shadowed by the Blackhawks' top pairing, and he wasn't able to create offense. While Parise is a talented player, he is going to need help in the future during the playoffs to get the job done.
Rick Nash had two points during the first round, and we learned that he still is having trouble adjusting to playoff hockey. While Nash was defensively sound for the Rangers, it took him most of the series to find his legs in order to generate scoring chances.
The reason the Rangers traded for Nash was because of his offensive prowess. Scoring no goals in the first round is not what the team had in mind.
Nash will need to be better against the Boston Bruins, and he showed glimpses of his regular-season self during Games 6 and 7 against the Washington Capitals.
Both Henrik and Daniel Sedin had a terrible performance against the San Jose Sharks.
The Sedin twins have not had much success in the playoffs since losing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, and both are set to become free agents in 2014.
Things could get interesting in Vancouver if the Sedins are unable to lead the Canucks in the playoffs next year, but we learned that they need to be better in the postseason.
The Toronto Maple Leafs' season ended in heartbreak after they squandered a three-goal lead in the third period, but fans learned something very important about Phil Kessel.
Kessel can play against the Boston Bruins, and he is a big-game player.
Kessel scored four goals and had six points in seven games as one of the Leafs' top forwards in the series. For the past few years, Kessel has heard the jeers and the references to the Tyler Seguin trade, but he proved that he has what it takes to be a legitimate star for the Leafs.
Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture
During the San Jose Sharks' matchup with the Vancouver Canucks, fans witnessed that Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture are the future leaders of the Sharks. Both Pavelski and Couture stepped up for their team.
While Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau had good series, Pavelski and Couture were the catalysts on offense, and they showed maturity and poise against a veteran Canucks team.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin
In the first round, it was evident that Evgeni Malkin is back as an elite player and Sidney Crosby can still be dominant while wearing a visor and chin guard.
Malkin had a down regular season statistically, but during the playoffs, he has shown fans why he won the Hart Trophy in 2011-12. Malkin was one of the top scorers in the first round. He has had fun playing with Jarome Iginla and James Neal on the power play.
It was also evident that Sidney Crosby is still a dominant player even though he is wearing a helmet that restricts airflow and has added weight.
The entire helmet covers most of his face, but it hasn't limited his effectiveness as a player. The Penguins are still considered the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, and Malkin and Crosby are a big reason why.
Erik Karlsson has six points in six playoff games. The 2012 Norris Trophy winner illustrated that his injury hasn't impacted his game in any way.
After having 70 percent of his Achilles tendon sliced earlier in the year, it was assumed that Karlsson would miss the remainder of the season. This wasn't the case, as he returned to the lineup in the final weeks of the regular season.
Since rejoining the team, Karlsson has played top-end minutes, and we learned that he hasn't missed a step since rejoining the Senators.
John Tavares had five points in six games during the first round and showed that he is going to be a very special player for the New York Islanders. Tavares is a Hart Trophy finalist for the 2012-13 season, which is a testament to his growth as a player.
Tavares led the Islanders to the playoffs with strong play. He was one of their best players against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Greater things are ahead for him and the Islanders.
Alex Ovechkin scored one goal and one assist during the Washington Capitals' series against the New York Rangers, and he was kept off the scoreboard during Games 3 through 7.
What we learned about Ovechkin is that he is a talented player, but he doesn't have what it takes to lead a team on a deep playoff run.
There was once a time when Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby were in a heated rivalry for the title of No. 1 player in the world. But Ovechkin hasn't been able to put the Capitals on his back like Crosby has done for the Penguins.
While Ovechkin is a good player, he won't be considered a great player unless he gets it done for the Capitals in the playoffs.
Anze Kopitar only had four points during the first round of the playoffs, but it is clear that he's on the verge of breaking out offensively.
Kopitar historically has gone through dry spells during his career. He went over a month without scoring a goal in 2012-13. But, he started to get his game going in the series against the St. Louis Blues,
Kopitar put on an MVP-worthy performance during the 2012 playoffs. The Kings will get a huge boost if his play comes alive during the series against the San Jose Sharks.
David Backes only had three points in the first round of the playoffs, and it is apparent that he needs to elevate his game in the postseason.
During his regular-season career, Backes has a point-per-game average of 0.61, but in the playoffs, he only averages 0.53 points per game.
While Backes is a solid physical player who can set the tone with his tenacity and aggression, he needs to contribute more in the clutch.
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