2011 NHL Playoffs: The 10 Best Players of the First Round
With the first round of the NHL playoffs coming to a close, here is a list of the 10 players who have had the biggest impact on their teams so far.
These are players that have influenced and dictated the outcome of every game they have played. Team success is not accounted for; only the individual play of these 10 quarterfinal difference makers.
10. Vincent Lecavalier
Lecavalier has had an impressive playoff run for Tampa Bay as he attempts to lead the Lightning to an upset over the Pittsburgh Penguins in round one.
After five games, the captain has three assists to go along with two goals for a point per game pace.
Most impressive, however, is the fact that both of Lecavalier's goals have been game winners. Lecavalier's timely goal scoring will be an important factor tonight if Tampa hopes to even the series against the Penguins and force a game seven.
9. Teemu Selanne
The ageless wonder began the 2011 playoffs on a goal scoring tear.
At 40 years of age, the "Finnish Flash" proved he could still be a useful goal scoring commodity in the playoffs.
Although his Anaheim Ducks were eliminated in six games by the Nashville Predators, Selanne managed to score six goals in the back and forth series while logging nearly 19 minutes of ice time per game.
8. Jordin Tootoo
The Nashville Predators' Jordin Tootoo has proved this postseason that you don't need loads of ice time to contribute to your team.
The tough right winger has made his presence known on both sides of the ice in the playoffs. Averaging only 12 minutes of ice time a night, Tootoo has recorded a goal and five assists for six points in the Predators six game unseating of the Anaheim Ducks.
Tootoo had a plus three rating, showing his commitment to the defensive zone as well. The tenacious forward also had a beautiful assist that set up a Steve Sullivan goal in the series clinching sixth game.
7. Duncan Keith
Duncan Keith is proving this postseason why he is the defending Norris Trophy winner.
While being matched against the Vancouver Canucks' Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the defenseman has logged a ridiculous 26.5 minutes per game, all while contributing offensively as well.
While leading his Chicago Blackhawks back from a three game deficit in the series, not many defenseman are asked more of than Keith.
Through six games, Keith has recorded four goals and two assists while running the Chicago power play and also being relied on as the team's top defenseman.
6. Mike Fisher
Fisher is having an outstanding playoffs for Nashville after being dealt from the Ottawa Senators earlier this season.
The gritty, two way forward is known for the energy he brings to the ice every shift as well as for the fact that he is married to Carrie Underwood.
In helping the Predators win their first ever playoff series, Fisher had six points in six games, including three timely goals in the historic playoff series win.
Fisher was also a plus-two rating through the duration of the series, proving his two way capabilities and his dedication to the team's success.
5. Marc-Andre Gragnani
Most likely the second most well known Marc-Andre in the playoffs this season happens to be the more effective.
Gragnani, a 24-year-old blueliner for the Buffalo Sabres, has played in only 15 regular season games in the NHL. However, in his first six postseason games, the defenseman has racked up six assists to go along with a lone goal for a total of seven points.
Gragnani has been running the Sabres power play from atop the umbrella, and his vision and passing skills have allowed him to accumulate his six assists.
The inexperienced Gragnani is also logging over 21 minutes of ice time per game and has recorded a plus-one rating throughout the first round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
4. Corey Crawford
In his first full season with the Chicago Blackhawks, netminder Corey Crawford earned the starting role and is now getting his first real look at NHL playoff hockey.
After falling behind three games to none early into the series, the young Crawford kept his cool and managed to win three straight to knot up the series.
Crawford has been positionally sound and in control of his rebounds, shutting down a high powered Vancouver attack.
The goaltender has posted a .922 save percentage paired with a 2.27 goals against average through six games this postseason, including a 36 save shutout in Game 5.
3. Pavel Datsyuk
Those lucky enough to watch Datsyuk play against the Phoenix Coyotes in a four game sweep were in for a treat.
The Russian forward dazzled audiences around the globe with his world class hands and playmaking ability.
With one highlight reel move after another, including a between the legs shot that resulted in a Red Wings goal, Datsyuk was a magician with the puck and nearly impossible to stop.
In the four game series win, Datsyuk accumulated two goals and four assists for six points and an incredible plus-six rating for Detroit.
2. Shea Weber
The captain of the Nashville Predators and proud owner of a fierce playoff beard did everything he could do to live up to his recent Norris Trophy nomination honors in the first round of the playoffs.
After so many disappointing early playoff departures for the Predators in recent years, Weber took it upon himself to finally get Nashville into the second round.
Playing like a number one defenseman, Weber contributed three goals and two assists from the blue line in six games.
Weber was also a plus-four rating while only being penalized once for two minutes. In the series, Weber also logged an impressive 26.5 minutes of ice time per game.
1. Dave Bolland
Since his return in Game 4 to the Chicago Blackhawks, Dave Bolland has been a one man Canuck killer.
With huge hits, timely scoring and sensational defensive play, Bolland is hands down the best player in this seasons young playoffs.
Chicago went 0-3 without Bolland in the lineup for the first three games of the series, but since his return, the Blackhawks have won three straight.
Bolland has effectively rendered the Sedin twins invisible since returning to the lineup and has also contributed offensively in a big way.
In three games, Bolland has already recorded two goals and four assists and an incredible plus-six rating compared to the Sedin brothers' combined minus-13.
After his game six heroics that forced a game seven in the series, Bolland cemented his spot on top of the list.