Glue Guys Having the Biggest Impact in the 2014 NHL Playoffs
Every NHL team has a player whom they rely on to deliver in a variety of areas. When the chips are down, he's the guy who could step up to score a big goal or make a huge defensive play. He's also the guy who is most likely to come to the aid of a teammate.
The final eight teams in this year's playoffs have more than one glue guy, and they're all talented in their own right. Even in this intense competition, there are players who have the ability to shine the brightest.
Here are the eight glue guys still impacting the NHL playoffs this spring.
Bryan Bickell, LW, Chicago Blackhawks
His Role: Bryan Bickell's job is to play a solid two-way game and to perform any role required. That might be as a scorer or checker as the need dictates from game to game.
His Execution: During the regular season, he was a major disappointment, but the playoffs have once again seen Bickell establish himself as a scorer.
His Impact: His ice time has increased from 11 minutes minutes a night to well over 15. His five goals in eight playoff games is spectacular compared to his regular-season total of 11 goals in 59 games. Bryan Bickell is back where he belongs—in the middle of the postseason offense.
Kyle Brodziak, C, Minnesota Wild
His Role: Kyle Brodziak's role is as a checking forward who helps out any way he can. Brodziak is used as a penalty-killer and is the man who gets the severe zone starts for the Minnesota Wild.
His Execution: Brodziak has been brilliant for Minnesota in the postseason. He's delivering his usual quality in a difficult role and even chipping in on offense.
His Impact: The Minnesota Wild are goal-starved, and Brodziak has three big tallies so far this playoff season. Added to his other difficult tasks, he's a glue guy who is over-delivering this spring.
Carl Hagelin, LW, New York Rangers
His Role: Carl Hagelin is a hard-working two-way winger for the New York Rangers. His job is to deliver in a variety of roles, depending on injury, slumps and the game situation.
His Execution: Hagelin is successful in contributing offense without playing major minutes. During the regular season, he was among the team leaders in five-on-five points per 60 minutes.
His Impact: He's delivering at an even higher level in the postseason. The Rangers are in a tough battle against the Penguins and will need Hagelin's productivity to win the series.
Brandon Sutter, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
His Role: Brandon Sutter is a two-way center for the Pittsburgh Penguins. His role is to play a depth defensive role, including tough zone starts. This allows Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to impact the game more offensively.
His Execution: Sutter was effective all season in the role and has continued to be during the playoffs. The zone starts are even more difficult in the postseason.
His Impact: Despite the zone starts, Sutter is scoring more in the playoffs than during the regular season. He has a short-handed assist and a winning goal.
Tanner Pearson, LW, Los Angeles Kings
His Role: Tanner Pearson is an emerging young player for the Los Angeles Kings. His role on the 2013-14 team is as an energy player along with fellow rookie (by games played) Tyler Toffoli.
His Execution: Pearson didn't impact much offensively during the regular season but is starting to find his range in the playoffs.
His Impact: The two rookies combined for a big goal in Game 7 of the series against the San Jose Sharks, as is described in this article by Corey Masisak of NHL.com. In a case of the rich getting richer, the Kings have a terrific find in Tanner Pearson.
Patrick Maroon, LW, Anaheim Ducks
His Role: Patrick Maroon is a 26-year old trying to establish himself with the Anaheim Ducks. He's a huge winger who is willing to fight, intimidate and chip in offensively.
His Execution: Maroon's role is secondary, but he's moving up the depth chart on the power play.
His Impact: During the regular season in 62 games played, Maroon scored 1-3-4 on the power play for Anaheim. After scoring on Monday night with the man advantage, he has gone eight games with a 1-2-3 line. He's a glue guy emerging as a big part of the Ducks' power play.
Torey Krug, D, Boston Bruins
His Role: Torey Krug is a puck-moving defenseman for the Boston Bruins. His role is to effectively get the puck out of the Bruins zone, and to deliver offensively on the power play.
His Execution: In a rather unusual turn, Krug has delivered on the offense and increased his role at even strength. It's rare for such a young player to play more minutes in the playoffs. Krug's time-on-ice has changed from 17:30 in the regular season to 20:06 in the playoffs.
Brendan Gallagher, RW, Montreal Canadiens
His Role: Brendan Gallagher's job is to play about one foot taller than his 5'9" frame. Gallagher combines speed, aggressiveness and a lack of fear into a formidable package.
His Execution: Gallagher is doing his job against the toughest available competition. That says a tremendous amount about his performance and the coaching staff's opinion of him.
His Impact: Gallagher is currently on a point-per-game pace in the postseason. He's doing it against tough competition. That's a key player on any team.
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