It's not only the NHL playoffs that can turn zeroes into heroes- and vice versa. With round one of the American League post-season in full swing, some forgotten names have exploded back onto the radar and some big names have fallen flat.
3. Andrew Gordon (Hershey/Washington)- The 2004 7th round selection flew under the radar all year as an AHL rookie despite posting 51 points in 58 games. A product of St. Cloud State, the 22 year-old has 5 points in 5 games for Hershey and is one of only two rookies to crack the top ten in playoff scoring.
2. Chad Kolarik/Kevin Porter (San Antonio/Phoenix- It's only fitting that the dynamic duo from the University of Michigan have played together for San Antonio in the AHL playoffs. Busy with the Gophers during the regular season, the pair have not wasted any time getting acquainted with the A. Kolarik, 22, has 3 goals and a helper. Porter, also 22, has three assists.
1. Alex Goligoski (Wilkes-Barre/Pittsburgh)- Despite big numbers all year as an AHL rookie fresh out of college, Goligoski worried a lot of people with his still-poor defensive game and age- 23, not exactly a young buck. However, it's been a long time since a blueliner dominated the AHL playoffs like this. In just five games, the 2004 2nd rounder had an incredible nine points as the Baby Pens ousted Gordon and the Hershey Bears in five.
3. Jiri Tlusty (Toronto/Toronto)- Towards the end of the NHL season, few youngsters were as dangerous as Tlusty. And after an especially dominant stint with the Baby Leafs that saw the 2006 first rounder pick up 18 points in 14 games, a huge playoffs was seemingly a lock... right? His team's MVP in Game 1 of the Marlies' series against San Antonio with the GWG, Tlusty has registered just one assist in a series that his team leads 3 games to 2.
2. Bryan Little (Chicago/Atlanta)- With over half a year's experience in the best league in the world and a strong showing during stints on the farm, the rookie pro pivot should be making hay of the A. However, with just one goal in five contests, Little has done little for the Chicago Wolves. His lack of production hasn't hurt the team has they still lead their series 3-2.
1. Gilbert Brule (Syracuse/Columbus)- No excuses here. 21 and with 146 games of NHL experience under his belt, the least Brule needed to do was register a PPG in the AHL post-season. Not only has he not come close to that, but the former sixth overall pick hasn't scored a point in four games for the Crunch, who are tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven with the Manitoba Moose.
3. Michael Leighton (Albany/Carolina)- He may never become anything, but the 26 year-old journeyman deserves mention in any form this week. In the longest game in AHL history, the Philadelphia Phantoms and Albany River Rats played 5 OT periods before finally settling Game 5 of the first-round match-up. Despite making 98 saves on 101 shots, Leighton was unable to drag the Rats to victory, allowing a goal three minutes into the eight period.
2. Tuukka Rask (Providence/Boston)- It looked like the Curse of the Boston Goalie had rubbed off on Rask, one of the best young goaltenders in the world. After a rough introduction to the NHL, the 20 year-old went down to Providence with an eye on the starting job. However, a lowly 2.33 GAA and .905 Sv% didn't exactly inspire confidence in the former first rounder's abilities. All doubt is now gone, however. Rask was a key piece in Providence's first round sweep of the Baby Kings, allowing just six goals in four games.
1. Corey Crawford (Rockford/Chicago)- Sub goal-and-a-half GAAs stand out in any league. But in the 2007-08 edition of the AHL playoffs, that looks shoddy in comparison to the yeoman's work of Chicago prospect Corey Crawford. The 23 year-old didn't allow multiple goals in a game until his fifth of the post-season, and leads the A with a 1.10 average and 0.955 save percentage.