Five Players That Have Been a Surprise Thus Far In The NHL Playoffs

April 20th, 2010 No Comments

Every year we wait patiently for the NHL Playoff season to commence. Some say the best part of the playoffs is watching a team get upset by a lower seed, some say it’s the heightened compete level from players and teams alike, me? I like watching unexpected hero’s emerge and players that were doubted by the “experts” come up huge.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the most surprising players thus far in the playoffs, for better, or for worse.

Chris Pronger—Defenseman, Philadelphia Flyers:

Playing upwards of thirty minutes and 34.3 shifts per game, Pronger has been seeing plenty of time on the power play—and for good reason.

Pronger has two power play goals, three points and has made life miserable for New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur by clogging up his crease.

More importantly, Pronger has been stellar defensively and has demonstrated that he is still one of the best hitters/most physical players in the league.

Pronger received a ton of criticism for his on again/off again play throughout the regular season. Let’s be honest, Chris Pronger has been the Flyers best player on the ice, night after night, making his playoff performance thus far a nice surprise.

Peter Regin—Forward, Ottawa Senators:

Peter Regin has played his way all the way from the minors up to the Senators top lines this season, which, in itself is very impressive.

Throughout the Senators series versus the Pittsburgh Penguins Regin has been the Sens best player, playing with a physical edge and scoring two goals and adding one assist.

A native of Herning, Denmark, Regin is a great example of an unheralded player making a name for himself in the playoffs, something that should translate into more ice time next season.

Tom Poti—Defenseman, Washington Capitals:

Averaging 22:51 minutes and 27.0 shifts per game, Poti has proven to be a valuable soldier for the Capitals.

Poti leads the NHL with a plus/minus rating of five (tied with teammate John Carlson) and he has played a physical game that we have not seen from him in quite some time, even getting into a fight with Montreal Canadiens forward Scott Gomez in game two of the series (Poti has not fought since February 23rd, 2004 vs. the Rangers).

The Capitals defense has been a source of criticism all season long, the fact Poti is stepping up his play is a nice surprise for the Caps and their fans.

Roberto Luongo—Goaltender, Vancouver Canucks:

It’s great to be a nice surprise in the playoffs, not so much when it’s for all the wrong reasons.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo has long been labelled as Canada’s top goaltender not named martin Brodeur. Fresh off the heals of a gold medal effort (one that many said Luongo had little to do with) Luongo came into the playoffs with something to prove.

Sadly, Luongo has been anything but “clutch” in the three games he has played against the Los Angeles Kings, giving up some very questionable goals, putting his team behind the eight ball in the process.

Luongo has a 1-2 record in his first three games with an alarming .880 save percentage and a lofty 3.20 goals against average. Luongo has given up nine goals on 75 shots, has looked unfocused and is not playing with confidence, making him a huge surprise for all the wrong reasons.

Craig Anderson—Goaltender, Colorado Avalanche:

Heading into the playoffs numerous “experts” were questioning whether or not Colorado Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson had run out of gas. Well, through three games Anderson has faced the most shots (129) of any goaltender and, not coincidently, has the most saves (122).

His game three performance against the San Jose Sharks was one for the ages, turning away 51 shots for a complete game (which went to overtime) shut out of one of the NHL’s best offensive teams.

Anderson currently boasts the third best save percentage at .946, the fifth best goals against average at 2.26 and has one of only two shut outs thus far in the playoffs.

Is Anderson a “huge” surprise, well, maybe only to his doubters, which, judging by all the predications out there, were plenty.

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