TheThey have given us some amazing — if not unexpected — production from the game’s greatest stars. For , , , , And We are thankful for all of them.
It's high time to raise awareness about those players who entered the postseason without much acclaim.
Every series has been punctuated by unheralded performers, from the first round all the way to the conference finals. They have taken on a lot of responsibility, handled large workloads, made bold moves, and contributed game-changing results that you won't see on the scoreboard.
These players are, or will continue to be, under-the radar stars. This list could go on and on.
We are highlighting six of these guys, to whom attention should be paid for the unappreciated excellence that they have brought to this postseason.
Let's start with the obvious: Avalanche is a General ManagerIt was a nail in the coffin .
Swapping prospectLehkonen was a second-round pick in Montreal's draft. His offensive depth and chemistry have elevated Colorado to another level. And This postseason, prior to Game 3's injury to the latter, is unrivaled.
Their line was a standout in Game 2 of Western Conference finals against Edmonton. They created all three goals (including one by Lehkonen). Colorado scored the goal in just 2 minutes, 4 seconds.
Lehkonen serves as his unit's silent scorer. Although he's not as flashy on the offensive, he has a hockey intelligence that is hard to match. Lehkonen is able to assess the play and make the critical read to set up a teammate’s scoring opportunity or move the puck out of the zone. His role as facilitator at the front is often overlooked because he's so good defensively. This has been a strong strength all through the playoffs.
Lehkonen is averaging 16 minutes per game and has scored six goals, five assists, and the series winner against Oilers. Colorado's second-line has performed well, which relieves the pressure on its top unit. Lehkonen's contributions are crucial in lifting Rantanen from a scoring slump.
Kadri might be out for a while due to injury. That means Colorado's depth will be more important than ever. Lehkonen will be with you all the way. He's an essential piece of the Avalanche puzzle.
They will be adding more 5-on-5 scoring before the trade deadline. Vatrano scored 12 even-strength points over 22 games in the regular season, while he and his primary linemates Mika Zibanejad won 5-on-5 by an 11-5 margin over her rivals
Vatrano has maintained that success in the postseason where he has made important contributions for New York. It's not just about the scoreboard.
Take a look at this sequence from Game 1 in Eastern Conference finals. Tampa controlled play in first period, but Vatrano returnedchecked in defensive zone to take a puck from the ready-to fire Vatrano.. It was a small but important decision that made a big difference in the future. Moments later, Vatrano slipped past Vasilevskiy and fired a wrister to give New York an initial 2-1 lead in their eventual 6-2 win.
Vatrano's skill set is often overlooked because of these little things. While he was not always regarded as the best defensive player, his performance in the 200-foot game has improved as the Rangers progress through the postseason. Vatrano does the job that is asked of him. He gets in shot lanes (he averages more than five blocked shots per games), is aggressive on the forecheck, and recognizes key defensive moments when he needs to step up.
While Vatrano may not see his name in the spotlights, it is clear that he is an important player on Rangers' stages.
The Lightning are very star-powered. They do it because that's what they do. They also have benefited from some underrated playoff contributors. Ross Colton is just one of these.
Colton finished second on the team with five goals through 14 playoff games. He also led Tampa with two game-winning goals, which is the second most in the postseason field.
Colton scored with 3.8 seconds remaining in regulation in Game 2 of Lightning's second-round series versus Florida to bring the Panthers closer to a sweep. Tampa Bay is back in conference finals because of the scoring depth provided by a player such as Colton.
Colton clearly learned a lot last season from his playoff experience. Colton played in only 30 regular-season games. He then averaged more than 10 minutes per game in each of Tampa’s 23 playoff outings, which led to his Cup win. This 23-year-old isn't content to just be happy to be there. He is determined to change the game.
Colton was given nearly 14 minutes of ice-time per game in the postseason. He also has a part on the power play (1.40 per game), and is often called upon to assist in critical situations during games. He was a force in Game 2 against New York and gave the Lightning some of their best chances.In an eventual loss, he played a crucial role in the team's wins in Game 3 and 4. Although he's had some critical moments in team wins in Game 3 & 4, they haven’t affected the scoresheet.
Yet, Colton's talents are as rare as their songs.
It was a classic Faulk performance that saw St. Louis lose to Colorado in Game 5.
Faulk was the one who helped the Blues overcome a 3-0 deficit in second periods.‘s tie goal in the third. Faulk was then busy hustling to stop the end-to-end. Blues' empty-net effort to force overtime. Faulk was the one who held the zone to tee off once it was over. St. Louis will win the game and continue their season for one more.
Faulk played almost 30 minutes on the ice that night and had one assist and one goal. Faulk had the sixth-heaviest postseason workload (25:58 TOI/game), and scored one goal and eight goals in 12 games.
But, his greatest contributions cannot be seen in box scores.
St. Louis' defense force was criticised for being inconsistent in the first season. Faulk was required to steady that group. There are other possibilities.Faulk emerged the Blues' most significant player of the season, though he has been mostly overlooked.
Faulk, the wise veteran who is always one step ahead, is Faulk. Faulk is a skilled veteran who anticipates and is ready to make a play that creates positive outcomes. You can see the goal he scored.In Game 1, Faulk caught the netminder by surprise when he found soft coverage in a potentially dangerous area. It is a testimony of Faulk's hockey intelligence and he invested all his resources in St. Louis' run.
Dallas was a wild-card team and entered the playoffs as the Pacific Division champion.All the way to overtime Game 7 in their first-round series.
The Stars were defeated in the extra frame. Their goaltender was the main reason they were there.
He was brilliant in the playoffs, allowing only 13 goals in seven games. His save percentage of.954 and average goal-against were both impressive — his save percentage ranks among the top in the entire postseason. Oettinger's performance, while top talents like Vasilevskiy or Shesterkin have been the focus of media attention, has been overlooked.
Oettinger had the second round of playoffs' best saves (+14.6). Next best? Shesterkin, at +11.9.
Oettinger did not get the support he deserved for his stellar performance against Calgary. Dallas allowed 41.0 shots per game, while Calgary managed 27.9 shots per goal. Oettinger also managed more than one goal in four of the seven playoff games.
This only highlights how underappreciated Oettinger was in the postseason. Oettinger came very close to winning the series single-handedly, and no other goalie could do that.
Bruce Cassidy, Boston's coach, made one of the most underrated decisions in these playoffs by giving the Bruins' net over to Swayman.
Although he had a solid regular-season (.917 save rate, 2.45 goals-against-average), he was unable to keep up with Carolina at the beginning of Boston's first-round series. Cassidy called him to Games 1 and 2. Ullmark went 0-2, with a.860SV% and 4.16 GAA. This is not ideal.
The rookie had been part Boston's “one-two punch” in net with Ullmark during the entire season. Swayman, now down 2-0 to the Metropolitan Division powerhouse, was forced to step into unfavorable circumstances. Swayman wasn't fazed. He supported the Bruins to victory their next two games, giving up only four goals and putting Boston back on an equal footing.
Swayman's mental toughness is evident in his ability to bounce back after the Bruins put an egg in Game 5. He then did a great job in Game 6, to win the series. Swayman was calm and precise in his approach without any hint of panic. As the series progressed, the Bruins displayed increased confidence before Swayman, which is a great compliment for any netminder.
In Game 7, Boston lost to Carolina. The Bruins would have likely not reached that point without that shift in the crease. Swayman's postseason SV% of.911 was tiedThe's defeated the likes And .
Swayman was close to leading a Boston team that was tired and beaten to the series victory. This is worth acknowledging.