What a first round we have seen thus far in the 2010 NHL playoffs. There has been no shortage of goals, hits, great saves, and displays of pure will in this exciting edition of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Every year there are those players that are expected to perform and produce great offensive or defensive play for their respective teams.
Every year we are treated with unexpected performances from players who lift their game to a new level during the playoffs. This young postseason has been no different in that regard.
There are many great story lines coming out of the playoffs that there are nearly too many too count. The salary cap has brought parity to the NHL, and it is beginning to show in how close the opening series have been thus far.
Without further needless banter, let's begin this look at five of those surprise performers from this year's playoffs.
The 6'4", 216-pound 33-year-old center from Slovakia has been a steady contributor for the Kings through his first three games.
In his first three games, he has posted two goals and two assists, with both his goals coming on the power play.
In his third NHL season with the Kings, he posted 20 goals and 22 assists with 38 penalty minutes in 81 games. The Kings utilized his big frame on the power play, with five of his goals coming with the man advantage this season.
In 63 career NHL playoff games, he has posted nine goals and 20 assists with 36 penalty minutes. He has one career game-winning goal in the postseason.
His best post season came with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003-04, when he scored five goals and five assists in 18 games.
But as evidenced by his career numbers in the playoffs, he has been a secondary player. The Kings hope to see his production continue in their first-round series against the Vancouver Canucks.
The 6'3", 208-pound 20-year-old defender from the USA has been a surprise contributor on offense for the Capitals in their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.
In the first three games, he has posted one goal, two assists, nine shots, and a plus-five rating.
He saw his first NHL action this season, playing 22 games while posting one goal, five assists, and a plus-11 rating.
He had an amazing start to the season with the Capitals' AHL affiliate, the Hersey Bears, that saw him post four goals and 35 assists with a plus-37 rating and 26 penalty minutes in in 48 games.
After a season like that in the AHL, it was only a matter of time before he made his way to the NHL.
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau has even gone as far to say that Carlson has become one of his top four defenders since his call-up from their farm team.
Look for him to continue to be a large part of the offense for the Capitals.
Also, by the looks of his game, a full season in the NHL next year could see Carlson post numbers between five and 10 goals and 20-30 assists. This kid is the real deal and will be a large part of Washington's defensive core now and in the future.
The 6'2", 197-pound 24-year-old center from Denmark has posted two goals and one assist for the Senators through the first three games of their opening-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In his first NHL season, he posted 13 goals and 16 assists with 20 penalty minutes with a plus-10 rating in 75 games, and one of his goals was a game-winner.
Thus far, he is the Senators' leading goal scorer in the playoffs.
If you told me that Regin would outscore both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson prior to the start of the playoffs, I would have said, "I think not."
But that is a reality of the Senators' current situation. That is also a large part of the reason why they are trailing 3-1 in their series against the Penguins after Tuesday's 7-4 loss in Game Four.
If Regin can continue his scoring ways, it will go a long way in helping the Senators replace the offense from Milan Michalek and Alex Kovalev, who are both missing this series due to injury.
The 6'2", 218-pound 33-year-old right winger from Sweden has posted four goals, one assist, and a plus-four rating through his first three playoff games.
His four goals have him tied for first in the playoffs. He has one game-winning goal and one power-play goal as well.
In his first NHL season with the Canucks, he posted 30 goals and 23 assists with 64 penalty minutes in 74 games. Seven of his goals were power-play markers, and four were game-winning goals. His totals this season were personal career highs.
In 72 career NHL playoff games, he has posted 17 goals and 23 assists with 34 penalty minutes. He has five career game-winning goals in the postseason.
His best post season came with the Detroit Red Wings in 2007-08, when he was a member of their Stanley Cup winning team, posting five goals and eight assists with one game-winning goal.
The Canucks signed him from the Red Wings in hopes to find a suitable winger for the Sedin twins.
He has been that and more in his first season with the hockey club. His leadership skills and winning experience have proven to be invaluable to this team.
If Vancouver has any hope of turning around its fortunes in their first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, he will have to play a major role.
The 6'2", 180-pound 28-year-old goaltender from the USA is currently first among goalies in the NHL playoffs with a 0.946 save percentage.
Also, through the first three games, he has faced 122 shots, which was the most among goaltenders in the playoffs.
In his first NHL season as a starter and his first season with the Avalanche, he has won 38 games with seven shutouts, posting a 2.64 goals-against average and 0.917 save percentage in 71 games.
Prior to this season, he spent seven seasons in a backup role split with the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers. He has also not seen action in NHL playoffs before.
The first half of this season saw him post amazing numbers, though he tailed off through the last half of the season. Many thought he was fatigued from his first NHL season of more than 38 games played.
He has shown that he has the ability to refocus and that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Currently, he is the reason why the Avalanche are up 2-1 over the favored San Jose Sharks in their first-round series.
The Avalanche hit the jackpot when they signed Anderson in the offseason. Look for him to continue his solid play regardless of whether the Avalanche make it to the second round or not.
Anderson has proved he is the real deal, and he is here to stay as Colorado's starting netminder.