2011 Stanley Cup Finals: 5 Candidates to Be the Surprise Hero of the Finals
Sometimes the expected happens and a star powers his team to victory.
More often than not, stars on opposing teams cancel each other out, and it is a lesser light that steps up to make the difference. A case in point is Dustin Byfuglien with the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.
Toews, Kane, Hossa and Sharp scored as was expected, but so did the stars on the teams that opposed the Blackhawks. However Byfuglien came out of no where to score 11 goals in the playoffs, five of which were game winners, as the Blackhawks went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Will there be a surprise hero for the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions?
Milan Lucic might be the surprise hero of the Stanley Cup Finals, but only because he has been quiet so far through the first three rounds.
Through 18 games, Lucic has a meagre three goals, despite playing 18:13 minutes per game. He does have six assists and 43 hits though, so he is contributing in other ways.
Lucic was a big game player in junior for the WHL's Vancouver Giants. Can he raise his game to another level in the Stanley Cup Finals, and start filling the net?
Tomas Kaberle was one of the most highly touted players available at the trade deadline. Boston acquired him for a prospect (Joe Colborne), a first round pick and a second round pick.
Either Kaberle has been running the greatest rope-a-dope scheme since Muhammed Ali, or the trade has been a bust.
Kaberle was supposed to provide some punch from the blue line. He has a mere eight assists, and zero goals.
Kaberle was supposed to help the Bruins improve their power play. The Bruins have an impotent power play that is firing at only 8.2%.
Did the Bruins fall for an expensive player that was overly hyped due to playing for the Maple Leafs?
Or will Kaberle redeem himself by scoring some clutch goals in the Stanley Cup Finals?
Alex Burrows falls into the same category of Lucic. A key contributor in the regular season, he has been overshadowed by his teammates in the playoffs.
Burrows exemplifies the phrase "will over skill" and I don't think anyone should underestimate how much he wants to win.
On most teams, seven goals and seven assists in 18 games, including a dramatic seventh game overtime goal, would be enough to have people talking about you.
In Vancouver, Burrows has been overshadowed by Henrik Sedin (21 points), Daniel Sedin (16 points) and Ryan Kesler (18 points).
Kevin Bieksa's impressive showing in the Western Conference Finals has also garnered media attention.
Through all this, Burrows has slipped under the radar for the most part.
Can the undrafted former ball hockey champion who used to ride the bus in the ECHL come up big in the Stanley Cup Finals?
If so, we'd better get a good sports movie out of the Alex Burrows story, because the script is unbelievable but true.
Chris Higgins is tied for 27th in the playoffs with four goals.
However, he is tied for second in the playoffs with three game winning goals. More to the point, no one else on the Canucks has more than two game winning goals.
Higgins hasn't been scoring much, but the goals he does score are huge.
Will he be able to continue his timely scoring in the Stanley Cup Finals?
Maxim Lapierre, like Tomas Kaberle, seemed to be a bust after he was acquired at the trading deadline.
He wasn't contributing anything to the Canucks, other than taking penalties, and he wasn't able to step up and take over the third line centre position when Manny Malhotra went down with an eye injury.
But when the playoffs started, Vancouver fans got to see the Maxim Lapierre that Mike Gillis traded for.
Lapierre has been huge for the Canucks. Centering the third line, he leads all remaining players in playoff hits with 63.
However, his physical play hasn't translated into production on the scoreboard, as he has only a single goal and a single assist so far.
As part of the Montreal Canadiens improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, Lapierre scored big goals against both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Can he do the same against the Boston Bruins?