NHL Playoffs 2012: Alexander Semin and Stars That Need to Step Up Their Game

Luis Batlle@lbatll1Contributor IMay 12, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Alexander Semin #28 of the Washington Capitals receives a two minute penalty from referee Steve Kozari #40 for slashing Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers in the first period of Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 28, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There are players like goaltender Braden Holtby and others who have helped lead their respective teams this 2012 NHL playoffs, just as any team who is still in championship contention has starts performing at the top of their game.

Yet there are still those talents, like Alexander Semin in Washington, who have a plethora to prove this postseason.

In what has arguably been the most enticing NHL playoffs of recent years, these are the three stars that must improve their play in order to keep their teams in Stanley Cup contention. These three players that have to make their impact felt as this postseason continues on.

Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals

All season long, Semin has shown to be a top-notch threat for this Washington Capitals team. His 54 points, 33 of which were assists, were integral in helping Washington net goals throughout this 2011-12 season.

But in this postseason, Semin has not shown up. After being demoted to the fourth-line two weeks ago, it is clear Semin has struggled. This series, he has been held scoreless and has recorded just one assist in limited ice time.

Hunter has limited his ice time significantly, but there is no question Semin has the talent to shine in these playoffs. Expect Semin to eventually step up his play and potentially be the "X" factor for the Capitals in Game 7.

NEWARK, NJ - MAY 03:  Patrik Elias #26 of the New Jersey Devils checks Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on May 3, 2012 in Newark,
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils

After posting a whopping 78 points in the regular season, a mark that was No.10 in hockey, Elias has been unable to contribute to the run of his Devils this postseason.

In spite of the team's success, there is no question that they will need Elias to step up his play.

He put up just one goal and one assist in the five games against the Flyers, and he will undoubtedly have to make more of an impact on the attack.

Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers

There is no question that, if there is any star that needs to rise to the occasion, it has to be right wing sensation Callahan. He and his attack have been flat since the start of the series against the Capitals. He told ESPN New York himself that top-notch goaltender Henry Lundqvist needs the support.

"He's pretty calm back there, he's positionally sound. He's a good goalie, there's no questioning that," Callahan said. "We just have to continue to work and believe and get some shots [on net]."

After a solid first-round series against Ottawa, Callahan has scored just once in the six games against the Capitals. If he doesn't help his No.1 Rangers get goals early in this one, the Capitals could find themselves winning big at MSG.


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