Stanley Cup Playoffs: Best Performances Of The Western Conference, Thus Far
With round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs in the books for the Western Conference it’s time to pick the best playoff performers thus far.
The likes of Colorado Avalanche’s goaltender Craig Anderson and Los Angeles Kings defensemen certainly were making a case for themselves, that is until both of their teams were ousted from the playoffs.
Suffice to say there are plenty of other candidates out there, here are my top five.
Evgeni Nabokov: Goaltender, San Jose Sharks—
With all the pressure to perform in the playoffs squarely on Nabokov’s shoulders very few of us would have been surprised to see him falter.
Fortunately for the Sharks Nabokov was rock solid for the Sharks in the final four games of their series against the Av’s, posting a 3-1 record, with his only loss coming in a game in which he only gave up one goal—shot in by his own player no less!
With six games under his belt Nabokov has amassed a 4-2 record, ranks fifth overall with a .926 save percentage, ranks second overall with a 1.76 goals against average and has a shutout to his credit.
No question, Nabokov has been an impact player for the Sharks thus far, something they badly needed.
Henrik Zetterberg: Forward, Detroit Red Wings—
Nobody is surprised at the offensive output from Henrik Zetterberg thus far, but he has earned his way onto my list nonetheless.
Through seven games Zetterberg has registered six goals (second overall) and 11 points (second overall), including his three assist effort in game seven against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Zetterberg also has two power play markers (second overall) and has amassed 28 shots on goal, which is an indication he is getting it done in all aspects of the game.
When the chips are down Zetterberg is all-in, his performance has been stellar thus far.
Antti Niemi: Goaltender, Chicago Blackhawks—
Coming into the playoffs there were all kinds of questions surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks goaltending, which was a bit of a surprise to those that look at statistics.
Antti Niemi had a very good regular season when you consider his numbers. Niemi posted a 26-7-4 record in the regular season to go along with his spectactular 2.25 goals against average (fourth overall), .912 save percentage (20th overall) and seven shutouts (third overall).
Niemi may give up the odd bad goal, but his numbers have been very solid this playoff season, posting a 4-2 record, 2.15 goals against average (fourth overall) and a .921 save percentage (seventh overall) to go along with his league best two shutouts.
Is Niemi good enough for the Hawks to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup? He’s got a long way to go, but, thus far, he has been “money”.
Daniel Sedin: Forward, Vancouver Canucks—
An argument can be made that San Jose Shark forward Joe Pavelski should make this list. Well, he won’t make it, but he would be my number six.
Daniel Sedin has been exceptional for the Canucks thus far, notching four goals (ninth overall), ten points (fourth overall) and boasting a plus +6 rating.
Sedin has been clutch, scoring two game winners (best in the NHL)and creating opportunity after great opportunity for himself and his line mates all series long.
Without question, Daniel Sedin has been a monster performer thus far.
Mikael Samuelsson: Forward, Vancouver Canucks—
Want to know why the Vancouver Canucks beat the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs? Look no further than Mikael Samuelsson, who had an inspired first round series against the Kings.
Samuelsson posted seven goals (best in the NHL), 11 points (second overall) and boasts a plus +8 rating. Samuelsson has scored two power play markers (fifth overall) and has amassed 28 shots on goal (fourth overall).
Needless to say, without Samuelsson’s dominant performance the Canucks may have come up short against the Kings. His three point effort in game six of the series was a performance for the ages, earning him my pick as the Western Conference’s best performer thus far.
***Also, check out Louis Pisano (fellow BR writer) and I, Mark “The Hard Hitter” Ritter) NEXT SATURDAY NIGHT, MAY 31ST at 6:00 PM through 7:00 PM EST as we throw down our hockey podcast “GET THE PUCK OUT” at www.morencysports.com
If you are wondering if this is the same Gabe Morency that was a fixture in the Montreal sports scene for years and was a member of “THE SCORE”—yes, it’s that MORENCY!—it’s his website!
We’ll be throwing out our pick’s for next weeks games, talking about the playoffs and venting all the rage we have built up!!! Bring your comments, questions and insight. Give us a call (toll free) at 1-866-964-5710—let’s talk some puck!
Until next time,