The beauty of the NHL playoffs is the sheer unpredictability of it. With apologies to fellow Maple Leafs fans who have yet to make peace with the way the team was eliminated by the Bruins, the final minutes of Game 7 were fantastic theater.
Here are a few players who have surprised with their postseason performances, both positive and negative.
After a fantastic postseason in the spring of 2011 that saw him help carry the Bruins to a Stanley Cup Championship while leading the NHL in scoring, Krejci is repeating the performance this year and quickly becoming a folk hero throughout New England. If you chose him in a playoff pool you’re likely sitting near the top of the heap and looking good to stay there if the Bruins keep playing as they have been.
After the regular season in which he enjoyed 25 points in 48 games, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Voynov lighting things up in the playoffs. With 12 points in 17 contests, the young blueliner is tied with Jeff Carter for the team lead in scoring and should be a popular target in drafts next fall. If we combine the regular season and playoffs, it’s interesting to note that Voynov has outscored his more famous and wealthier teammate Drew Doughty by 10 points in an equivalent number of games played.
For whatever reason, Brassard was never able to score on a consistent basis as a member of the Blue Jackets, despite his impressive pedigree. It’s hard to put a finger on what changed when he arrived in the Big Apple, but he became the team’s most dangerous offensive weapon from the moment he first donned the Original Six sweater. With 12 points in as many playoff games, he was far and away the best Ranger during the postseason and will be playing for a contract next year. He’s likely to be underrated in points-only leagues, but still doesn’t offer a ton of value in rotisserie formats.
Although the Penguins have painted themselves into a corner by falling behind Boston 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, Letang has easily been the most productive defenseman in the postseason. His 16 points thus far place him four clear of the next closest rearguard, the aforementioned Slava Voynov. There’s no more consistent scorer from the back end than Pittsburgh’s power-play quarterback.
The Blackhawks captain may have his team in position to qualify for the Stanley Cup Finals, but his offensive contribution to the cause has been sorely lacking. Sure, some of that shortfall can be attributed to bad luck, as a shooting percentage of 2.2% exemplifies, but his problems run deeper than that. He has accounted for one measly assist in four contests against Los Angeles and has been a disappointment to those who used an early pick on him in playoff pools.
If you had been advised prior to the playoffs that the Bruins would be holding a three-game lead over Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals, it’s reasonable to think you might have selected Seguin with the first pick in your draft. The fact that the young star has amassed only four points in 15 postseason contests is an enormous surprise. He has managed to score on just one of the 50 shots he has directed on goal and it’s clear he’s been extremely unlucky as anyone who watched the Bruins’ seven game series against the Maple Leafs can attest. Seguin was a dangerous player in the first round despite not recording a point until he drew an assist on Patrice Bergeron’s series-winning overtime winner. For the sake of value players everywhere, I’m hoping his production continues to lag behind his on-ice play.
Unlike the Penguins and Bruins, who possess a number of talented forwards, Los Angeles relies heavily on a few select scorers, of which Kopitar has historically been the brightest star. So it’s all the more surprising to see the Slovenian-born center sitting fifth among Kings postseason scorers with a meager seven points, just one ahead of the total posted by rookie Tyler Toffoli in six fewer games. Because of the nature of small sample sizes, this doesn’t make us any less confident in Kopitar’s prospects for next season, but if you chose him in your playoff pool you have my permission to complain.
Without question the most disappointing turn of events in these playoffs has been the performance and subsequent benching of the Penguins’ goaltender. The man referred to as “Flower” by his teammates has seen his stock wilt after four troublesome starts against the Islanders in the first round, which opened the door for Tomas Vokoun to step in, a position he has yet to relinquish. It’s very likely Fleury was the first goaltender selected in your playoff pool and it’s also likely that whoever drafted him has been cursing his name for the better part of three weeks.