2011 NHL Playoffs: Ryan Kesler and the Top Scorers Left in the Playoffs
The NHL Playoffs are known as a time when stars in the league establish their legacy. Failures in the playoffs have haunted numerous stars like Joe Thornton (in past years), Daniel Alfredsson and others from being established as some of the all-time best. In these playoffs, we have seen some truly amazing individual performances from some of the best players in the league. Let's take a look at the top scorers still playing in the 2011 Playoffs.
5: David Krecji
For a guy known for his playmaking skills, David Krecji has really stepped up his goal scoring in the Playoffs. After only scoring thirteen goals all season, he already has ten goals this postseason and is hungry for more. Coming into the playoffs, the one knack against Boston had been their goal scoring ability, especially with the loss of their top offensive player Marc Savard. Well Krecji, together with Patrice Bergeron — who so valiantly came back from a concussion — have certainly answered the call and look to lead the Bruins back to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1990.
The most impressive aspects of Krecji's offensive burst is that he is doing it on so few shots. He is scoring at a 30.3 percent clip, which is an absolutely remarkable number. Also, taking away his three goals in last nights losing effort, four of his other seven goals have been game winners. Krecji is shooting accurately as well as at clutch times, and shutting him down should be the number one goal for the Lightning in game 7.
4: Vincent Lecavalier
Lecavalier is playing his best hockey in years. He has been quick to the puck, making solid passes and is a forced to be reckoned with for the first time since he signed that massive 11year, $85 million contract.
Not only has Lecavalier been scoring at a higher clip during the postseason, he has helped ignite Teddy Purcell and his wicked wrist shot, in what is quickly becoming the story of the playoffs. After a 51-point season, Purcell has taken his game to new heights. He has 10 goals and 17 points in these playoffs and has benefited from Lecavalier's star play. If Lecavalier can continue to play with this sense of urgency, the Lightning will be a very difficult team to stop.
3: Daniel and Henrik Sedin
I know I know, it is getting a little old combining the two of them all the time, but hear me out. The reason that I am combining them is not because they contribute to each other's success, which they obviously do; rather it is because they are carrying the load for each other when one of them is struggling. In the opening round of the playoffs against Chicago, Henrik struggled a little and finished with only five assists in the 7-game series. Critics were claiming he was the next Joe Thornton (which should not be an insult anymore), and that the Canucks were never going to get anywhere with him as their star. Meanwhile, his brother Daniel was playing much better and had five goals and seven points against Chicago. When their two numbers are combined, five goals and 12 points is not too bad. These guys work as a team.
Against San Jose, it was almost the exact opposite scenario. Daniel Sedin had a decent (for his standards) series with six points in five games. However, his brother Henrik was truly spectacular. Henrik finished the series with 12 points in five games, in what is one of the best series performances of all time. Again, 18 points in a series between them, truly spectacular.
So while we would like to separate the two brothers, they do a very good job of keeping themselves together.
2: Martin St. Louis
Wow! At 35, this guy just does not slow down. St. Louis and his diminutive 5-foot-9 frame is the heart and soul of this young Lightning team. He has been a mentor for Stamkos and continuously leads by example. He also has come through in the clutch this postseason, scoring two goals in yesterday's elimination game. He is second in the NHL in points and tied for first in goals in the playoffs. With the sudden lack of reliability in goal, the offense that St. Louis brings to this team is indispensable.
The only negative aspect of his game right now is his minus-8. That is a number that most definitely needs to go positive if the Lightning would like to advance further in the Playoffs. I think that most analysts would say both Eastern Conference teams are underdogs to the mighty Canucks. If the Lightning want to hoist Lord Stanley's mug for the second time this decade, St. Louis really needs to show more of a defensive game.
1: Ryan Kesler
Ryan Kesler had his coming out party in the gold medal game last year in Vancouver. From that moment on, one thing became quite clear; he likes the the big game pressure. This year in the playoffs, Kesler has been the best player on the ice in nearly every single game he has played. While his stats (7G, 11A) are quite impressive, they do not nearly do justice for the amount of pressure he has put on the other teams goalies.
His series against Nashville may go down as one of the most dominant individual performances in NHL history. He factored in on every single goal in the series except for three. He had a couple of game winners and was absolutely dominant throughout.
His tip-in goal in Game 5 against the Sharks was an absolute work of magic and highlighted his clutch factor that he displayed throughout the Playoffs.
Aside from his defensive and penalty killing prowess, Ryan Kesler has been the most dominating player on the other side of the rink as well.