Game 5 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks is coming up Saturday night, and after several close games, it seems as if this series will go down as one of the hardest fought in recent memory.
What remains to be seen is if one player will rise up and own the series with clutch performances.
Perhaps it will be Daniel Paille, who has netted two game-winning goals already, or one of the Blackhawks stars, Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane. Maybe it will be one of the goaltenders, Corey Crawford for Chicago or Tuukka Rask for Boston, who will steal a game or two and change the course of the series.
One thing is for sure, by the end of the Stanley Cup, a hero will have been made.
Which brings us to this list, over the last four decades there has been no shortage of playoff heroes, stars who have elevated their play on hockey's highest stage to lead their team to hoist the Stanley Cup.
A few points are in order:
First, this list begins its considerations in 1967 and ends after the most recent Stanley Cup Final. Why? Because in 1967, the NHL doubled its size and expanded from the Original Six teams.
Right around the early 1970s is when the NHL began to more closely resemble the game played today, as nearly all goaltenders were choosing to wear masks, the vast majority of teams were in the U.S., and a young defenseman by the name of Robert Orr had just broken into the league and began to revolutionize the position he played.
Second, I have attempted to rank the following players and their contributions to their teams based on one simple rule: How vital was that player to his team's performance in that respective Stanley Cup Final series?
What I mean by this is that a game-winning goal gets rated higher than a goal in a 6-1 loss, for example. Also, while statistics can sometimes be misleading, they're often fairly black and white.
Third, this list is completely subjective. Comparing a goalie who shuts down a team throughout the series to a player who puts up a ton of points is apples and oranges. Having said that, you will not agree with every part of it, and if you disagree, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.
So, without further ado, let's dive in.