During the NHL’s second season, pressure filters through arena corridors, locker rooms, and onto the ice throughout the two-and-a-half month chase to be champion of the hockey world.
Every player who suits up for one of the 16 teams that have earned their way into the annual spring tournament internally feels the change in intensity and meaning as the games transform from competitive contests into immensely intense battles.
It takes everyone on a team to win the Stanley Cup (arguably, the most difficult chalice to attain in professional sports).
From the No. 1 center down through the seventh defenseman, everyone’s role is an important piece to complete the championship puzzle.
There are those, however, who are looked to by teammates, analysts, executives, coaches, and fans to perform at a level above that of most others who play the games.
These superstars are the ones who shoulder much of the load for their respective organizations.
If they reach that herculean level of play and succeed, much of the adulation and praise for their team’s long playoff run will be showered upon them. In turn, if they do not perform and their club falters, many fingers around the hockey world will be pointed in their direction.
The following is a list of five NHL stars who skate into the playoffs burdened with their franchise’s (and the cities they represent) Stanley Cup dreams.