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The Player on Each 2014 NHL Playoff Team with the Most Postseason Experience

Rob VollmanContributor IApril 19, 2014

The Player on Each 2014 NHL Playoff Team with the Most Postseason Experience

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    Charles Krupa

    In the Stanley Cup playoffs, experience matters. It's a grueling schedule where players compete at maximum intensity every other night for up to two months, often playing through injuries and extreme fatigue. At some point, even the game's best athletes need someone who has been there before to help pick them up. Who will it be?

    I've selected one player per team that has the most postseason experience. This was based largely on a combination of their number of playoff games and appearances, their total ice time, and, of course, any Stanley Cup appearances and victories.

    The role each player held for their teams wasn't ignored, nor how much scoring they achieved. The experience that Sidney Crosby earned playing big minutes against top lines, for example, was weighted more than what Craig Adams earned blocking shots on the checking line.

    In the end, I've identified these players, summarized their postseason experience and pointed out what they bring to their teams today. Finally, these chosen players, one per team, were ranked based on how much experience they have. Let's begin!

     

    All playoff data is prior to this post-season and sourced from Hockey-Reference unless otherwise noted.

     

16. Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Paul Vernon

    His Experience

    Brandon Dubinsky has four postseason appearances, all with the New York Rangers, where he scored 17 points in 31 games. His team has never advanced past the second round.

    Not to be nasty, but Dubinsky is the only currently-competing Columbus player with more career postseason points than New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Dubinsky is a hard-nosed two-way top-six forward.

    He's a classic do-it-all player who finished third in team scoring and led the team with 98 penalty minutes and four shorthanded points.

    Regardless of what the team needs at any given time in the game, Dubinsky can be called upon to perform.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    The Blue Jackets understandably don't have much in the way of postseason experience, especially with Nathan Horton out with abdominal surgery.

    Fedor Tyutin is the only other Blue Jacket with four postseason appearances.

     

15. Max Talbot, Colorado Avalanche

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    Alan Diaz

    His Experience

    Maxime Talbot, who was acquired midseason from the Philadelphia Flyers in a deal for Steve Downie, has six previous postseason appearances, all but the last of which were with Pittsburgh.

    He has 39 points in 78 games, including 13 points in 24 games in Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup triumph in 2009. There is only one active player who has scored more than his three shorthanders.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    The 30-year-old veteran is a key defensive presence and penalty-killer.

    The Avalanche have plenty of players who can score. With one more goal, Jamie McGinn would have given the team six 20-goal scorers.

    What Colorado needs is someone who can come in and slam the door shut in late-game, lead-protecting situations. That will be where Talbot will be relied upon. 

     

    Honorable Mentions

    If Alex Tanguay were in the lineup, he'd bring 98 games and 59 points of postseason experience over nine previous appearances, including the team's 2001 Stanley Cup.

     

     

14. Brenden Morrow, St. Louis Blues

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    Jeff Roberson

    His Experience

    Brenden Morrow has eight postseason appearances, all but the last of which were with the Dallas Stars. In that time, he has scored 46 points in 92 games.

    Morrow has one appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, a six-game loss in his rookie 1999-00 season.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    At age 35, Morrow is in more of a support role, as a defensively responsible veteran presence on the fourth line.

    At certain times, however, the Blues will be sitting on a late lead in a critical situation when David Backes is catching his breath. Coach Ken Hitchcock is going to need someone who can come in and do whatever it takes to protect that lead until his top line is ready to go again. That's when you should expect him to send Morrow over the boards.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Morrow has a considerable lead over his teammates in every category. Jordan Leopold is second with seven postseason appearances, Maxim Lapierre with 69 games and Derek Roy with 26 points.

     

     

13. Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Chris Szagola

    His Experience

    Scott Hartnell has eight previous postseason appearances, five of which were with Philadelphia. He amassed 44 points in 84 games.

    The highlight was Philadelphia's 2010 run to the Stanley Cup finals, when Hartnell scored 17 points in 23 games.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Hartnell is a gritty offensive-minded forward who brings toughness to their scoring line.

    He is one of seven Flyers who scored at least 20 goals this year, and one of four to take over 200 shots. He led the team with a plus-11, finished third with 103 penalty minutes and fourth with 52 points.

    The playoffs are physically demanding, and scoring can sometimes come at a price. Not only is Hartnell the one willing to pay that price for a goal, he makes sure that opponents have to pay it as well.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Kimmo Timonen also has eight postseason appearances, during which time he has scored 34 points in 80 games.

    Were he in the lineup, giant penalty-killing veteran Hal Gill would bring 10 postseason appearances in which he has scored just six points in 110 games.

     

12. Matt Cooke, Minnesota Wild

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez

    His Experience

    Matt Cooke has 10 previous postseason appearances, including a Stanley Cup championship with Pittsburgh in 2009.

    He has scored 33 points in 97 games with the Canucks, Capitals and Penguins.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Cooke is a key defensive presence for the Wild, paying whatever price is necessary to keep the puck out of Minnesota's net. 

    He and Kyle Brodziak line up against top opponents to take some of the load off of top-line superstars like Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville.

    They also play a mean and gritty brand of hockey and can kill penalties with the best of them.

     

    Others

    Mike Rupp is suspended for the first three games of the playoffs due to a dirty hit on T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues late in the regular season. When he returns, he brings 67 games over eight postseason appearances, both of which are the second most on the team.

    Dany Heatley is the team's leader in postseason points with 57 in 66 games, with Zach Parise the only other Wild player ahead of Cooke with 44 points in 66 playoff games.

     

     

     

11. Sami Salo, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Chris O'Meara

    His Experience

    39-year-old Sami Salo has 11 previous postseason appearances, fewer than only six of this year's postseason participants.

    In that long career, Salo has played 100 games, during which time he has scored 31 points. His only experience beyond the second round was Vancouver's Stanley Cup appearance in 2011.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Tampa Bay is a young team, and half the players in its lineup on any given night are rookies. The Lightning will be relying on Salo's experience on the blue line.

    Despite his age, Salo is still the player to whom the team turned to shut down the league's top opponents and to kill penalties this season. Though he didn't get as much ice time as Tampa Bay's other defensemen, he led the team in the average quality of his competition.

    Expect Salo to get a real workout in late-game, lead-protecting situations, especially against the top opposing snipers.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Free agent pick-up Valtteri Filppula has 57 points in 105 games to lead the team, but in four fewer postseason appearances than Salo.

     

     

10. Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings

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    Gene J. Puskar

    His Experience

    Mike Richards has seven previous postseason appearances under his belt, including Los Angeles' 2012 Stanley Cup triumph and the 2010 season when the Philadelphia Flyers fell just a couple of games short.

    In that time, Richards has scored 77 points in 98 games and has scored three shorthanded goals, more than all but a single active player.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Richards is a top penalty-killer and two-way forward who has received Selke consideration for six straight seasons, including finishing runner-up in 2008-09.

    He'll be relied upon to provide the same shutdown defensive play that he always has, and against top-six opponents.

    Richards, who finished fourth in team scoring, will also be needed to generate some additional offense with his strong playmaking skills.

     

    Others

    Justin Williams and Jeff Carter also both have seven postseason appearances, but with fewer games and and far fewer points than Richards.

     

9. Brad Richards, New York Rangers

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    Gene J. Puskar

    His Experience

    Brad Richards has seven previous postseason appearances, including a Conn Smythe as the league's most valuable player in Tampa Bay's 2004 Stanley Cup victory. That year, he led the postseason with seven power play goals, seven game-winning goals and 26 points.

    In all, Richards has 78 points in 93 postseason games, not counting the three he already has so far this year.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Famously benched last year by coach John Tortorella, this year Brad Richards is being given an opportunity by new coach Alain Vigneault to lead the Rangers deep into the postseason.

    Richards is a strong and creative offensive player who led the Rangers in shots and finished second to Rick Nash in team goal-scoring by scoring 20 goals for the 10th time in his career. He finished third behind Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan with 51 points.

    Richards, who has scored at least 15 points in three separate postseason appearances with three different teams, is the player the Rangers will be relying upon to provide scoring in even the most desperate situations.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Richards' old 2004 Tampa Bay Stanley Cup teammates Martin St. Louis joined him at the trade deadline, along with his 68 points in 63 games over five postseason appearances.

    Also, Henrik Lundqvist has played 67 games in seven postseason appearances.

     

8. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Paul Sancya

    His Experience

    Sidney Crosby has six previous postseason appearances, during which time he has scored 105 points in 82 games, third most among this year's playoff participants.

    Crosby's greatest postseason success was captaining the Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009, leading the postseason with 15 goals and taking on the tough lines to create the space teammate Evgeni Malkin needed to win the Conn Smythe.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Crosby is arguably the best player in the game today, and is expected to make a Stanley Cup contender out of virtually any reasonable collection of NHL players.

    He is expected to take endless abuse from the game's best defensive players and to lead the post-season in scoring, much as he did in 2008.

    Anything less than a Conn Smythe performance will be considered at least somewhat of a disappointment.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Chris Kunitz, Rob Scuderi and Craig Adams all have one or two more postseason appearances than Crosby, all have played between 11 and 17 more games and each of them have two Stanley Cups with two different teams. However, they combine for 23 fewer points than Crosby, and only defenseman Scuderi has logged more minutes (and just barely).

    Evgeni Malkin has 97 points in 83 postseason games over six appearances.

     

     

     

7. Daniel Briere, Montreal Canadiens

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    Matt Slocum

    His Experience

    Daniel Briere has nine previous postseason appearances if you include the single six-minute game with Phoenix back in 2000.

    In 108 games, Briere has scored 109 points, which is second among this year's playoff participants. He is one of only five active NHLers with 50 postseason goals, and one of only six with at least 20 on the power play.

    Briere led the postseason with 30 points with Philadelphia in 2010, his only Stanley Cup appearance. He also led the league with eight goals in 2012 and six power-play goals in 2008.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Though Briere's regular-season scoring totals were modest, much is expected of the veteran in the postseason.

    The 36-year-old has just 13 goals and 25 points in 69 games this year, but his tremendous history no doubt had more than a few fantasy poolsters drafting him in one of the later rounds.

    Montreal has the potential to go deep this year, and to do so they'll need one more offensively dominant postseason from Briere.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Brian Gionta's 10 postseason appearances exceeds Briere, and his 61 points in 95 games rank second on the team.

     

6. Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks

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    Mark J. Terrill

    His Experience

    Teemu Selanne has an amazing 12 prior postseason appearances, matching or exceeding all but five of this year's postseason participants.

    Selanne has scored 82 points in 118 games with Winnipeg, San Jose, Colorado and Anaheim, including 15 on the way to their 2007 Stanley Cup.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    At age 43, the Finnish Flash is obviously not going to be the primary source of scoring. Indeed, Selanne managed just nine goals and 27 points in 64 games in the regular season.

    Never underestimate the value of experience, however. While the top defensive players are focusing on Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Selanne will be in a position to provide clutch scoring when the Ducks truly need it most. Don't be surprised if the legend has a few more postseason game-winners left in his stick.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Saku Koivu has 10 postseason appearances totaling 67 games. Ryan Getzlaf has more games (69) and points (59), but over six postseason appearances.

5. Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez

    His Experience

    Patrick Marleau is tied for the most previous postseason appearances among this year's participants with 14. His 140 games are second most in that group.

    In all that time, Marleau has racked up 96 points, and his 57 goals are second only to Jaromir Jagr among active players.

    He is also one of only six active players with at least 20 power-play goals, and the only active player with at least four shorthanders.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    For all their regular-season success, the Sharks have never advanced to the Stanley Cup finals. A considerable portion of the responsibility to guide the team to the final round for the first time will be placed on Marleau's shoulders.

    Marleau is a fantastic two-way forward, shutting down the league's best players while topping 30 goals for the fifth time in six seasons and seventh time in nine.

    This could finally be San Jose's year, especially if Marleau can provide elite play at both ends of the ice. 

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Joe Thornton has one more postseason point than Marleau, and in 15 fewer games and one fewer postseason appearance.

    The Sharks also have an experienced blue line. Scott Hannan and Brad Stuart both have at least 10 postseason appearances, Stuart and Dan Boyle both have at least 100 points and Marc-Edouard Vlasic is not that far behind on either front.

     

4. Sergei Gonchar, Dallas Stars

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    Matt Strasen

    His Experience

    Sergei Gonchar has 13 previous postseason appearances, fewer than only two of this year's postseason participants. In that time he has played 135 games, which ranks fourth.

    Gonchar's 90 playoff points are the most among active defensemen, and his 68 assists ranks third among those currently in the playoffs.

    Gonchar had back-to-back Stanley Cup appearances with Pittsburgh in 2008 and 2009, the latter of which resulted in a Stanley Cup, and also reached the finals with Washington in 1998. 

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    The 40-year-old Russian is fundamentally a power-play specialist. His 14 power-play points ranked fifth on the Stars this season and are behind only Alex Goligoski on the blue line.

    Gonchar is otherwise more of a third pairing defenseman who will be used sparingly in defensive situations and/or when shorthanded.

    His role this postseason is clear, and it's to ignite the scoring, especially with the man advantage.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    41-year-old winger Ray Whitney has played 103 games and scored 53 points over his eight postseason appearances.

     

3. Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings

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    Gene J. Puskar

    His Experience

    Daniel Alfredsson has 14 previous postseason appearances, which is tied for the lead among those competing in this year's playoffs.

    He has scored 100 points in 121 games and is one of only five active NHLers with 50 postseason goals. He leads active players with 25 power-play goals, and there is only one player with more than his three shorthanders.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Surprisingly, Daniel Alfredsson led the Detroit Red Wings in regular season scoring with 49 points in just 68 games. Could he lead the postseason in scoring as he once did for Ottawa in their lone Stanley Cup appearance back in 2007?

    Even at age 41, Alfredsson remains one of Detroit's most potent offensive threats, without sacrificing any defensive coverage.

    The Swedish legend will be relied upon to lead this team through a tough path to the Stanley Cup finals with strong two-way play on the top lines.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Detroit is hoping for the return of Henrik Zetterberg, who has 114 career points in 123 playoff games spread out over 10 previous appearances.

    And even without Zetterberg and Dan Cleary, the Red Wings still have two more players with at least 10 playoff appearances, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi.

     

     

2. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

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    Julie Jacobson

    His Experience

    Zdeno Chara has 10 prior post-season appearances, including two appearances in the Stanley Cup finals with Boston in 2011 and 2013, the first of which was victorious. His impressive 15 points in 22 games last year boosted his career total to 54.

    The tall Slovakian's 129 games ranks sixth among this year's postseason participants, his plus-33 fifth among active players and he is the ice time leader among active skaters.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Chara is the captain and the key shutdown force on a powerful Bruins team. There can't be too many players that the average NHLer dreads seeing in front of them more than Chara.

    More than just providing elite defensive play, Chara also contributes considerable offense. Even at age 37, he once again led Boston's defensemen in scoring with 40 points.

    There really are no game situations in which Chara won't be coach Claude Julien's first choice. He'll be relied upon to play as many minutes as he can handle and generally matched up against the league's best players.

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Shawn Thornton and Jarome Iginla have both made seven trips to the postseason, but Chris Kelly tops them both with 90 games, and David Krejci with 73 points. Milan Lucic's plus-37 is second among active players.

     

1. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Elise Amendola

    His Experience

    Only two of this year's post-season participants have more previous playoff appearances than Marian Hossa's 13. His 152 games are the most in that group and behind only three members of the New Jersey Devils overall.

    Hossa has scored 113 playoff points, which is fourth among active players, and tops among those currently playing. He is also the playoff ice-time leader among active forwards.

    He is perhaps best known for a three-year stretch from 2008 to 2010 when he reached the Stanley Cup final with three different teams, finally hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup in 2010. He won it with the Blackhawks again in 2013.

     

    Where He'll Be Relied Upon

    Even at age 35 Hossa remains one of the league's finest two-way forwards. He can line up against the best players in the world, shut them down, and put up big points of his own.

    His 30 goals were second most among Blackhawks this season, and only the second time he's reached that level since six straight seasons from 2000-01 through 2006-07.

    Hossa was one of five Blackhawks to score at least 60 points, and one of three to record at least four points while killing penalties.

    Chicago has too many weapons for a team with only a single shutdown line to contain. An experienced player like Hossa will be relied upon to exploit any holes while not creating any of his own.

     

    Others

    Michal Handzus has made 10 trips to the post-season where he has played 97 games and scored 43 points. He is one of nine Blackhawk skaters with at least 70 games of post-season experience, four of whom also have scored at least 43 points.

     

     

    Rob Vollman is author of Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, co-author of the annual Hockey Prospectus guides and a featured ESPN Insider writer. @robvollmanNHL.

     

     

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