NHL Playoffs 2011: Ranking the 10 Most Dangerous Postseason Scorers
Every Stanley Cup Playoffs, a hero arises amongst the masses. Every year, it can be someone different or a brand new hero.
In 2010, the heroes included the likes of Daniel Briere, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Mike Cammalleri and Michael Leighton.
In past postseasons, there are heroes that came out of the woodwork to make sure their teams secured the Stanley Cup. Those include the likes of Jamie Langenbrunner, Travis Moen, Fredrik Modin and Ruslan Fedotenko. These players scored when it mattered most to their teams.
In the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, there are many players who will make an impact. Many are perennial playoff scoring threats, while others have something to prove this postseason.
Has 22 points in 25 career playoff games. Scored 13 goals in 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which was the most amongst scorers.
Has 23 points in 26 career playoff games. Scored 21 points in 19 games in 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which tied the rookie record.
Has 26 points in 29 career playoff games. Scored 21 points in 23 playoff games in 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Has 69 points in 75 career playoff games. Scored 13 goals in 16 games in 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs and 12 goals in 23 games in 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Currently 13th in playoff goals among active players.
Has 72 points in 105 playoff games. Scored 15 points in 21 games in 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Has 24 points in 60 career playoff games. Won the 2009 Stanley Cup. Has an increased importance without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby not in the lineup.
Last year's overtime playoff hero. Has 42 points in 38 career playoff games. Great upcoming star with a Cup winning goal already on his resume.
1. Corey Perry: Anaheim Ducks
As the fourth seed, the Ducks managed to grab home ice advantage in this year’s playoffs by rattling off three straight wins to close out the season. This was, in no small part, thanks to the stellar play of Corey Perry down the stretch. Not only did Perry rip through March by scoring 15 goals and adding six assists in 14 games, he also jumped atop the leaderboard in goals this season with 50 when everything was said and done.
With three career hat tricks all occurring this season, as well as seven multi-goal games since March 9, Perry is the most dangerous scorer in the NHL heading into the playoffs. Not only is this said because of how well he has finished off the regular season, but because of his playoff success in the past, both in the NHL and in juniors.
Perry has notched 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 48 career playoff games in the NHL, including 15 points in 21 games en route to the 2007 Stanley Cup. His clutch playoff prowess goes far back to his playing with the London Knights in the OHL, where he scored 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) in 18 games in the 2005 OHL Playoffs and then added seven points (four goals, three assists) in the 2005 Memorial Cup, in which he was named tournament MVP.
If the Ducks are going to go far and be a threat, Perry will be the lightning rod for this Anaheim squad. If he, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan can get the regular help of secondary scoring, the Ducks will go deep.
2. Martin St. Louis: Tampa Bay Lightning
The most dynamic and consistent players in the Tampa Bay lineup over the last eight seasons, St. Louis has never scored less than 70 points since the 2002-03 season and has only missed two games to boot. His 99 points (31 goals, 68 assists) this season shows he still has what it takes. In 45 career playoff games, St. Louis has scored 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists), including 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 23 games en route to the 2004 Stanley Cup.
Not only is St. Louis consistent, he is a clutch playoff performer. He ranks 14th all time in playoff goals per game with 0.511 goals per game. He has also scored three playoff overtime goals, including the series winning goals against the Washington Capitals in the 2003 Quarterfinals and against the New York Islanders in the 2004 Quarterfinals. He also scored the overtime winning goal against the Calgary Flames in Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.
This time around, St. Louis is flanked by young scoring star Steven Stamkos as well as other playoff veterans Vincent Lecavalier, Simon Gagne and Ryan Malone. Look for St. Louis to be the go-to guy in the playoffs for the Lightning.
3. Daniel Briere: Philadelphia Flyers
It would be tough to imagine that Daniel Briere would not want to duplicate his success of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. His 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 23 games in last season’s postseason was tops of all playoff scorers when the Philadelphia Flyers had four of the top 10 playoff scorers.
Not only was Briere clutch in 2010, but also with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006 (19 points in 18 games) and 2007 (15 points in 16 games). In 2010, Briere finally reached the Stanley Cup Finals after making the Eastern Conference in both years with the Sabres. His 87 points (35 goals, 52 assists) in 86 career playoff games, including 17 playoff power play goals, are tied for seventh amongst active players.
The Flyers have a good chance at repeating their run of 2010 with their lineup boasting many other elite scorers. However, Briere’s playoff experience and clutch play make him a very good choice to lead amongst the playoff scorers once again.
4. Alex Ovechkin: Washington Capitals
Say what you will about his lack of scoring this season compared to the rest of his career, Alex Ovechkin is one of the most prolific scorers in playoff history as of the last few Stanley Cup Playoffs. His 40 points in 28 games speaks volumes to how he elevates his game come playoffs.
Many would put the blame on Ovechkin for the President's Trophy winning Washington Capitals first round exit. Fact of the matter is, Ovechkin had 10 points in the seven game series, including three points (two goals, one assist) in a 6-3 win in Game 4. Ovechkin did, however, manage only two more points the rest of the series. The Washington Capitals' chances in these playoffs rest on Ovechkin’s shoulders just as always.
Ovechkin has also scored 21 points in 14 games in the 2009 playoffs. His 0.714 playoff goals per game is the highest in NHL history. Second in that category is Mario Lemieux, with 0.710 playoff goals per game. With the season that the Capitals have endured, Ovechkin may be more than ready to start the post-season to avenge last year’s early exit.
5. Pavel Datsyuk and 6. Henrik Zetterberg: Detroit Red Wings
If the Detroit Red Wings are to go deep in the playoffs, both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will be the players they will need to step up the most. Both have a wealth of playoff experience, with a combined 207 career playoff games between them.
Zetterberg captured the 2008 Conn Smythe Trophy with 27 points in 22 games as the Red Wings won the 2008 Stanley Cup. He has 91 points in 97 career playoff games and is tied with Daniel Briere for seven amongst active players with 17 playoff power play goals. Datsyuk has two Stanley Cups to his credit, including 23 points in 22 games in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup.
Both have had their spells of injuries during the regular season. If Zetterberg can come back from his injury late this season and produce as he usually has in past playoffs along with Datsyuk, the Red Wings have an opportunity to go far once again. In 2010, the Red Wings lost a very close series with the San Jose Sharks in the semifinals. Both Zetterberg and Datsyuk scored five points in the six game series.
The Red Wings success rests on the play of these two. If they falter, there is secondary scoring that can make up some of the difference. But if they do falter in these playoffs, which seems highly unlikely, then Detroit may be an early playoff exit.
7. Daniel Sedin and 8. Henrik Sedin: Vancouver Canucks
Playing with Alexandre Burrows has helped the Vancouver Canucks brothers become the elite scorers they were drafted for. With each capturing the Art Ross the last two seasons, it may finally be the right time for the Canucks to go deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For them to do this, the Sedins must be able to take centre stage as the team’s main offensive production.
In past playoffs, the Sedins have only played 65 career playoff games, with Daniel notching 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) and Henrik notching 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists). However, the Canucks have not seemed to be able to get over the hump in the playoffs, losing in the previous two playoffs to the stronger, bigger Chicago Blackhawks. This time around, the Canucks may have finally have what it takes to go far.
For the Sedins to deliver in Vancouver is paramount. This is the year that they finished 10 points ahead of every other team in the NHL. For the Swedish twins, the situation is finally one they can cash in and go far in the playoffs. But first things first, they will have to go through Chicago for a third straight season. Can they lift the curse?
9. Ryan Kesler: Vancouver Canucks
After a great season, Ryan Kesler may finally be ready to take the next step in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the 2010 Playoffs, Kesler had 10 points in the Canucks 12 games, but he only notched four assists against the Blackhawks in the semifinals. With a 40 goal season, Kesler’s importance to the Canucks has only increased, and the pressure to perform in the playoffs will be present. This year, Kesler must provide more offense to help the Sedins and give the Canucks a full attack against any Western Conference teams.
Kesler’s previous playoff performances include a nine point (four goals, five assists) performance with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose in 14 playoff games in the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs. That performance came on the heels of a 58 point season (30 goals, 28 assists). His maturation as a player will become apparent these playoffs, as the Canucks are amongst the favourites to win the Stanley Cup.
Against the Blackhawks this year, Kesler will have to step up huge and be that Dave Bolland like force for the Canucks: to be able to score and play defensive hockey. Kesler is one of the best two-way centres in the NHL; it is time for him to step that play up in the playoffs.
10. Jonathan Toews: Chicago Blackhawks
With the 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy already under his belt after notching 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 22 playoff games in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jonathan Toews is still a threat when it comes to scoring. Not taking anything away from Patrick Kane, but Toews has been the rock for the Blackhawks all season long, ending the season with career numbers in assists (44) and points (76).
With 42 points in 39 career playoff games, Toews stepped up his play when it mattered most in last year's playoffs against the Vancouver Canucks and will be called upon to do that same thing in the first round against the 'Nucks.
Toews is the captain and leader of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago squad and will be looking to duplicate the success of the last two playoff runs, which has seen the Hawks go to the third round and finals respectively.