NHL Primetime Performers: League's Best Players Come Playoff Time
A lot can be said for scoring 40-plus goals during the regular season. A lot more can be said about scoring them when it counts, namely during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Over the years, a handful of players have been able to get the job done when the proverbial chips were down. Others, renowned for playing well during the season, have faltered at the finish line.
This is my current NHL all-playoff team (six forwards, four defensemen and one goaltender), and my test run at slideshow-based articles.
Hope you enjoy!
Johan Franzen - Detroit Red Wings
The "Mule" tops my list, due to just how little was thought of him coming out of Linköpings of the Swedish Elite League.
Franzen was taken by the Detroit Red Wings with the 94th selection back in 2004. In his final campaign with Linköpings of the Swedish Elite League, Franzen accumulated a mere seven goals in 43 games.
In his first year with the Wings, his totals were pretty dismal—12 goals and a paltry four assists in 80 contests.
Franzen holds the NHL record for most goals in a four-game playoff series with nine, and the most goals in a playoff series as a Wing.
Franzen consistently sits atop the playoff leader board, due to his uncanny ability to find the back of the net.
Henrik Zetterberg—Detroit Red Wings
Although Henrik Zetterberg has been assigned defensive duties this finals, the offensive abilities the 2008 Conne Smythe Trophy winner possesses are second to none. Fifty one points in 50 games between '05 and '08, and an astonishing 28 goals ranks the Swede first amongst active players.
Hope Mike Babcock will give Zetterberg more of a shot to show he’s not just a Swedish version of John Madden during this year's finals.
Ryan Getzlaf—Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Tqhe quintessential playoff performer. Big, nasty, gand with hands to die for. This lad always arrives at the puck in ill-humor. Bobby Clarke would be proud!
If I could have one guy up front, I'd take Getzlaf.
Scott Niedermayer—New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Mighty Ducks
What can you say about Scott Niedermayer that’s not already been said? The future Hall of Famer has won four cups with two teams (New Jersey and Anaheim) a gold medal, and a Conne Smythe trophy.
Between 2005 and 2008, Niedermayer’s put up some impressive offensive numbers as well, scoring 29 points in 49 games.
But the force that is Scott Niedermayer is more than just his offensive numbers and stellar defensive play. What makes Scott Niedermayer special is his uncanny ability to take over a game, skate by opposing forwards as if they're not there, and calm his squad and quiet a building without muttering a word.
Scott Niedermayer has always led by example.
Daniel Briere—Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers
Before throwing your mouse at the screen, hear me out. Yeah, Briere is a tad soft, but the guy has been utterly brilliant over the past few postseasons, picking up 54 points off of 21 goals and 33 assists in only 57 games between 2005 and 2008.
That ranks him number one in points scored between 2005 and 2008.
Eric Staal—Carolina Panthers (Yes, it's his mugshot)
Coming into this campaign, Stall amassed 35 points on 14 goals and 21 assists in only 32 playoff games. We all know what he did this year.
Chris Pronger—Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Voted the dirtiest NHL player in 2006 by a National CBC poll, Pronger can't only be seen for his defensive qualities. Post-lockout, Pronger has put up 45 points in 55 games.
Impresssive numbers for a guy tipping the scales at a 225 pounds; a guy that hits everything in sight.
Chris Osgood—Detroit Red Wings
Between 2005 and 2008, Osgood went an astonishing 18-4, accumulating four shutouts, two cups, and a whole lot of respect, all with a goals against of 1.59 and a save percentage a shade below 94 percent.
Sure, he’s played on some great teams, but so has Martin Brodeur, yet no one attributed his success to the defense in front of him.
Stevens, Niedermayer, Dano, and Rafalski were miles better than the Wings defense, yet Brodeur's seen as the second coming, Osgood's most certainly not.
To be labeled a "lucky hack" on a good team and constantly berated during away games by detractors is unfair.
There are certainly other goaltenders with more talent—Luongo, Lundqvist to name a few—but no one has been able to get the job done as Ozzie has done post-lockout.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin—Pittsburgh Penguins
So what if there are two of them. I don't think it would be fair to come up with a list of the best playoff performers of the day and not mention either of these fellas. The numbers and play speak for themselves.
Honorable mentions—Niklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Chris Drury (his numbers are actually better than a few of the fellas on the main list.)
Feel free to leave me your feelings on my list and how you would have ranked them.