Every year there are players who breakout in the playoffs and then follow that up with strong regular seasons. This season we watched players like Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Joe Pavelski, Ville Leino amongst others elevate their game. This daily snippet will point out that player in an attempt to find some sleepers for next year prior to the end of the playoffs.
Teddy Purcell may not be a fantasy star from last night (vote here) but he definitely deserves credit for his hard work and improved play over his first sniff at the playoffs. However, with his two goals last night he earned a better, more meaningful accolade in the actual third star of the game after scoring the first goal only 36 seconds into the game and his second as an important go ahead goal in the second period.
His Tampa Bay Lightning team have won every game with their collective backs against the wall so to expect anything less this far into the playoffs will surely be a letdown.
In addition, the skinny winger Purcell looks like the best player on the entire ice, finally breaking out of his shell. Back in 2007-2008, the Newfoundland native potted 25 goals and 83 points in his first season in the AHL while playing for a very strong Manchester Monarchs team — other standouts included Matt Moulson and Brian Boyle, who have also found success in their transition to the NHL.
When Purcell originally was moved from the Los Angeles Kings, he was labeled a bust after three stints (one of 10 games, and the other two at 40 and 41). We thought relatively highly of him playing with Vincent Lecavalier since they were both Notre Dame Hounds at one point. Reggie Yinger went so far as to include him in his early Crashing the Net series. Long story short, the guy is quite talented and has been on our radar for a while. Nevertheless, we never expected him to rank in the top five in playoff scoring.
From the sound of it, neither did Purcell, as he explained to the St. Petersburg Times:
“I was such a late bloomer. I always dreamt of playing in the NHL, but I really didn’t think I ever would. It seems like yesterday I was living at my parents’ house playing street hockey every day after school. Hopefully, those memories stay with me a long time”
Before these conference finals, Purcell only scored one goal through the first two rounds with teammates Dwayne Roloson, Sean Bergenheim and Steve Downie taking the cake as the unheralded star. With Bergenheim hurt and Mike Smith taking turns in the crease it has become Purcell’s time to shine in the spotlight. Now that the 25-year-old understands what he needs to do to succeed he should continue to flourish under Guy Boucher.
We hope you enjoyed our latest as much as we enjoyed writing it. If there are glaring omissions let your voice be heard in the comments. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all day until game time and follow us on Twitter @DailyFaceoff