Most and Least Efficient NHL Playoff Stars

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2013

Most and Least Efficient NHL Playoff Stars

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    Winning in the Stanley Cup playoffs means your stars have to step up.

    Sometimes, the biggest stars in the game can dominate, like Sidney Crosby. But in other cases, a player with more subtle skills, like Boston's David Krejci, steps up after an ordinary regular season.

    On the other hand, the pressure of performing under the brightest lights in a win-or-go-home situation may cause some to falter and lose their way.

    Here's a look at the five most and least efficient players, in no particular order, in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Most Efficient: 5. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit

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    The Detroit Red Wings have been overachievers in the postseason. Not only did they beat the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round, they did it by coming back from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 series deficits.

    Currently, they lead the heavily favored Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in the conference semifinals.

    Henrik Zetterberg has emerged as the clear leader. He scored the overtime goal in Game 6 against the Ducks to send the series to a seventh game, and has scored three goals and seven assists thus far, with a plus-four rating.

    If Zetterberg is going to improve in any area, it needs to be in shooting efficiency. He is connecting on 7.0 percent of his shots. Many of the other top scorers are approaching 20 percent in that area.

Most Efficient: 4. Logan Couture, San Jose

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    Logan Couture is rapidly becoming the face of the San Jose Sharks franchise.

    He has a knack for making big plays at the most important moments, most recently scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of their second-round series. That has given the Sharks life in the series, as they trail 2-1 with the fourth game in San Jose.

    Couture has been one of the Sharks' most consistent performers in the postseason. He has scored four goals and six assists while averaging nearly 21 minutes of ice time.

Most Efficient: 3. Patrick Sharp

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    While the Chicago Blackhawks were dominating the NHL during the regular season, Patrick Sharp was battling various injuries for much of that time.

    Sharp's importance to the Blackhawks was never in question, but his team succeeded without him for a large portion of the season. Sharp is healthy again, and he is performing at peak efficiency for Chicago. He has scored six goals and four assists, and has a plus-five rating.

    He is averaging better than 17 minutes of ice time per game, and he is connecting on 17.6 percent of his shots during the first two rounds of the playoffs.

    Sharp's contribution has been vital, as neither Patrick Kane nor Jonathan Toews are producing at regular-season levels.

Most Efficient: 2. David Krejci, Boston Bruins

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    David Krejci raises his game to a new level once the playoffs roll around.

    His talent and skills are obvious throughout the year, but he doesn't always play with the consistency or fire that he demonstrates in the postseason.

    He is leading the league in scoring with five goals and 11 assists through Boston's first nine playoff games. Krejci has a plus-12 rating and is scoring on 21.7 percent of his shots.

    This is nothing new for Krejci. When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, he scored a league-high 12 postseason goals and 23 points while finishing plus-eight and connecting on four game-winning goals.

    What makes Krejci special is his ability to wait an extra split second before making a pass or taking a shot, and he sees openings that few other players can detect. In the video above, Krejci waited and waited as he cruised in on Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer before he fired the game-winning overtime goal.

    The Bruins have to be thrilled that he is scoring and setting up linemates Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton on a regular basis.

Most Efficient: 1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Since Sidney Crosby returned from his jaw injury in the first round against the New York Islanders, he has been a scoring machine for the Pittsburgh Penguins, recently scoring a hat trick against the Ottawa Senators.

    There have been moments where he has seemed a bit tentative, but Crosby has been playing with speed and effectiveness. Crosby has six goals and six assists in eight playoff games.

    While Crosby's numbers have been what hockey fans have come to expect, he can still play with more confidence. It appears he is still feeling his way.

    Once he truly gets comfortable, Crosby's numbers may turn other-worldly.

Least Efficient: 5. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

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    Anze Kopitar is a special talent with the Los Angeles Kings. He has the unique ability to get a shot away even if he has little time and space.

    His ability to fire his shot from all angles has made him one of the most dangerous and dependable players in the NHL.

    However, Kopitar was injured at the start of the year, and he struggled to put the puck in the net in the second half of the season. He finished with 10 goals and 32 assists in the regular season.

    The playoffs has been a struggle for Kopitar. He has just one goal and three assists in the Kings' first nine games. The Kings are far from a one-man team, but they will need more from Kopitar if they are going to defend their Stanley Cup title this year.

Least Efficent: 4. Rick Nash, New York Rangers

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    After eight outings, Rick Nash scored his first goal of the playoffs Sunday against the Boston Bruins.

    While the Rangers could not take advantage and lost their second consecutive game in the series, the slick backhand-forehand move that allowed him to score on Boston's Tuukka Rask showed Nash's great skill. The hope in the New York locker room is that Nash will come alive and lead his team.

    Nash had 21 goals and 21 assists in the regular season, but he has been held to a goal and three assists in the playoffs.

    One of the criticisms of Nash is that he does not always take advantage of his 6'4", 220-pound frame to play physical hockey and go into the dirty areas for scoring chances. The Rangers need him to address such criticisms and concerns immediately.

Least Efficient: 3. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Captain and leader for the Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews is one of the best players in the world.

    If Joel Quenneville needs defense, Toews provides it. If the Blackhawks need puck possession, Toews can win a faceoff. If Chicago needs a key goal, Toews will be in the middle of the action.

    However, the 2013 postseason has not worked out well for Toews from an offensive production point of view. Toews has yet to score a goal and has just three assists. When he is not scoring, he can still do many things to help his team. Eventually, however, his scoring presence will be needed.

    If the Blackhawks are going to match their regular-season form, Toews is going to have to get hot. So far, he has not displayed anything resembling a hot streak.

    The Blackhawks are waiting, but patience is beginning to wear thin now that they are trailing the Red Wings 2-1 in the conference semifinals.

Least Efficient: 2. Jaromir Jagr, Boston Bruins

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    The Boston Bruins acquired Jaromir Jagr from the Dallas Stars prior to the trade deadline because they thought the future Hall of Famer still had enough left in the tank to make a difference in the postseason.

    Jagr loves to use his size and strength to shield defenders off the puck and set up scoring opportunities. Jagr still can carry and hold the puck, but when it comes to playmaking or shooting, it seems like he has been a half-second too slow. Jagr has yet to score and has just four assists.

    It's too early to say that Jagr is finished, as poor puck luck has certainly contributed. He recently had a sure scoring opportunity against the Rangers when he rocketed what looked like a sure goal from just outside the crease, but Henrik Lundqvist flashed over to make the save.

    Jagr has had some chances, but he also looks a bit fatigued as he attempts to help the Bruins survive and advance.

Least Efficient: 1. Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins

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    The Boston Bruins are surging after having survived their first-round near-disaster against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    They take a 2-0 lead to Madison Square Garden ahead of their Tuesday matchup, and they are feeling good about themselves. However, when head coach Claude Julien looks down his bench and sees his team's fastest skater, he is shaking his head.

    Tyler Seguin is perhaps the Bruins' most gifted offensive player, but he is in a playoff funk. He has one assist in the Bruins' first nine playoff games.

    He seems to be working hard, but there is no efficiency to his game. When he comes into the offensive zone with speed, he seems to skate toward the defender instead of away from him. He struggles to control the puck, and he has botched a lot of easy passes.

    This is often referred to as squeezing the stick too tightly. If the Bruins are going to finish off the Rangers and have success later on, they need Seguin to start producing on a regular basis.

    So far, he may be the most inefficient star in the postseason.