The first round of the NHL playoffs have finally drawn to a close, but what an incredible two weeks of action it was. Man, do I love playoff hockey.
We experienced the roller coaster of perennial playoff chokers Vancouver advancing past the Hawks on Alex Burrows’ overtime goal, only after the defending Stanley Cup Champs came within an eyelash of becoming the 2nd team in as many years to rally back from a 3-0 series deficit.
We watched in amazement as the seemingly ageless Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas would steal the show – and their series – for their respective clubs.
And we rejoiced when, after 12 long years in Music City, Nashville’s Barry Trotz finally galloped his Preds into Round 2, after downing Anaheim in 6 games.
In addition to those great storylines, we also witnessed:
- 5 Suspensions
- 4 Thrilling Game 7’s
- 3 Top seeds from each Conference advancing
- 2 Nathan Horton OT Game Winners
- And 1 Middle Finger, directed squarely at Habs fans (courtesy of Andrew Ference)
Here’s a look at some of my fantasy studs (guys who are still kickin’ around) and duds (guys who have early tee times) from the first round of the NHL postseason.
FIRST ROUND STUDS
CHRIS KELLY – BOSTON BRUINS
You’d have a hard time finding anyone who predicted that Kelly would finish the first round with 6 points (3G, 3A), good for 2nd on the team in scoring (trailing only Bergeron with 7). But as others like Krejci and Lucic struggled all series long, Kelly was there time-and-time again chipping in with clutch goals in Game 4 and Game 7 to help Boston advance. Heck, if he keeps this up, Kelly could single-handedly make the full cage fashionable again in Beantown.
CLAUDE GIROUX – PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
While Danny Briere seems to steal the majority of the headlines in Philly come playoff time, Giroux continues to quietly go about his business, accumulating points on a consistent basis. After amassing an impressive 21 points during last year’s Cup run, he currently sits 2nd overall with 9 pts. (1G, 8A) after Round 1. One thing’s abundantly clear – Giroux Gi-rules come playoff time.
RYANE CLOWE – SAN JOSE SHARKS
Joe Thornton may have won the series for SJ in overtime in Game 6, but it was Clowe who played an instrumental part in each of the Sharks’ first 3 wins over LAK. All 7 of his points (4G, 3A) came in those victories, good enough to earn the rugged LW the distinction as San Jose’s leading scorer thru Round 1 and 8th best in the league.
MIKE FISHER – NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Preds’ GM David Poile has to be commended for bringing Fisher to Nashville ahead of this year’s trade deadline. After leaving the sinking ship in Ottawa, Fisher has been revitalized during this playoff run in Tennessee, leading all Predators with 6 points (3G, 3A, 1 GWG) in the first round. Thank you Carrie Underwood.
MIKE GREEN – WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Green made a remarkable rebound in Round 1 from a debilitating concussion that saw him miss the final 20 games of the regular season for Washington. The two-time Norris Trophy finalist finished the first round with 5 points in 5 games (including 3 PPP), good for 2nd on the team behind only Ovechkin (6 Pts). Thankfully for the Caps, a blocked shot to the head suffered in Game 5 vs. NYR won’t result in any setbacks or missed games for Green in Round 2.
FIRST ROUND DUDS
DUSTIN PENNER – LOS ANGELES KINGS
The biggest name to be moved at the deadline, Penner flopped in his Hollywood playoff debut, managing just one goal while getting demoted to the Kings’ fourth line. The only good news for LA surrounding their enigmatic winger is that he’ll be playing for a contract next year, so maybe he’ll turn it around and have a good year. Or maybe not.
BRAD BOYES – BUFFALO SABRES
Boyes, the Sabres lone trade deadline acquisition, snapped his embarassing 17-game goal scoring drought when he cut Buffalo’s deficit in Game 7 to 5-2 with just under 5 minutes to go. Talk about clutch.
JORDAN STAAL – PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
In the absence of Crosby and Malkin, Staal proved unable to fill the void of productive first line center or leader on the powerplay for the Pens. Pittsburgh went an anemic 1-for-35 with the man advantage as Staal managed just one goal in losing their first round series to Tampa Bay in seven games.
MARIAN GABORIK – NEW YORK RANGERS
If the Rangers were going to have any chance at upsetting the top-seeded Capitals, Gaborik would have to be “The Guy”. Not the guy who scored just one goal in five playoff games.
JONATHAN TOEWS – CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
What a difference a year makes. Last year’s Conn Smythe trophy winner struggled mightily against Vancouver and the tight checking of Ryan Kesler, to the tune of just one goal and four points for the series, while recording a team-low minus-4 rating. His near heroics at the end of regulation in Game 7 almost salvaged the Hawks postseason and his own. Almost.
There’s my list. Which First Round “Studs and Duds” stood out for you?