Here are 10 players who really step up in the NHL postseason
When it comes to playoff hockey pools, you can almost sleep through the first two rounds and still know exactly who is taken.
But most playoff pools aren’t won with these guys. Playoff pools are won by choosing players that are most capable of going on a hot streak. It’s better to select a guy who can get 18 points in 14 games than someone who will get 15 points in 22 games.
That’s where these guys come in. These players won’t be taken in the first round. Heck, most of them won’t be gone in the first five rounds. But they’re all capable of putting together a crazy scoring streak, because for the most part, they’ve done it numerous times.
I didn’t really focus on matchups for the names below, so some of the players will be eliminated in the first round. But even for those players that are eliminated early - expect them to do well.
Whenever Vinnie has had the chance, he performed in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had a chance to do so very often. The last time he saw playoff action, Lecavalier had 19 points in 18 games (back when Tampa Bay made it to the semifinals in 2011). In 2007, he had seven points in six games. So we know he can do well in the playoffs, he just hasn’t had the opportunity to do so.
9. Milan Lucic
This guy was built for the playoffs. His hard-hitting style helps open space for line mates, and in the last two playoffs, he’s stayed out of the penalty box as well, which can only help him. Last year was his breakthrough playoff year, as he scored 19 points in 22 games. In the last five years, Lucic has averaged 0.68 points per game in the playoffs.
It doesn’t matter what team he has played for, Richards always comes through in the playoffs. When Philadelphia made the finals in 2010, Richards had 23 points in 23 games. When the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, he had 15 points in 20 games. Even last year, with a second round exit, he had 15 points in 20 games. With many thinking the Kings are good for at least the second round, he’d be one of the best pickups on Los Angeles.
He is the most interesting guy on this list. While his regular season points have gone down in each of the last four years, he's still a playoff beast. In the last five years, he has 28 playoff goals and 56 playoff points (a 1.10 points per game average, fifth best in the league). And in his last playoff appearance, Briere put up eight goals and 13 points in just 11 games. He’s a step slower now, but Montreal didn’t bring him in for the regular season, he was signed to give Montreal an edge in the playoffs.
Alfie was always a proven playoff performer with the Sens (20 points in his last 20 playoff games, including 10 points in 10 games last year), so it will be interesting to see what type of role he’ll play for Detroit in the postseason. He may not be getting as much ice time since he won’t be the main to-go guy, but he’ll also be playing with better line mates.
5. Dan Boyle
Sure, the 37-year-old Sharks defenceman is having an off-season. But expect Boyle to step up during these playoffs, just as he’s done almost every season in his career. In fact, he’s almost getting better with age. Last season, he put up eight points in 11 playoff games (the 0.73 points-per-game is third amongst all d-men who played at least 10 games). In the last five years, he has 44 playoff points in 55 games. That 0.8 points per game is sixth amongst defenceman in that time, and no one in the top five has played more than 12 games.
4. Joe Thornton
It wasn’t that long ago when Thornton was labelled a playoff choker. However, he’s generally been a point-per-game player since arriving in San Jose. But a lack of deep playoff runs still has many poolies hesitant to choose him. It’s important to note that in the last four playoffs, Thornton has hit double digits in points three times.
While Giroux may have benefited from playing against Marc-Andre Fleury in the postseason so much, there’s a reason why his coach called him the best player in the world a few playoffs ago. Giroux really steps up his game in April, which is amazing when you think how good he is in the regular season. From 2008 to 2013, Giroux has a 1.10 points-per-game average in the playoffs, up quite a bit from 0.88 points per game in the same timeframe in the regular season.
2. David Krejci
The guy is a playoff beast. In two of the last three seasons, Krejci has led the league in playoff points. When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 11, Krejci had 12 goals and 23 points In 25 games. Last year, he led the league with 26 points in 22 games. His points per game over the last five playoff seasons is 0.92, while his regular season points-per-game average is 0.78.
1. Ryan Getzlaf
In the last five years, Getzlaf is third in the NHL for points-per-playoff game (minimum 20 games) with 1.15 (only Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are ahead of him). And since we’re looking at the last five years, those numbers doesn’t include his 17 points in 21 games when the Ducks won the Cup in 2007. He’s been just under a point-per-game most years, and in 2009, put up 18 points in just two rounds. Yet Getzlaf is not a usual first round pick in playoff pools.
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