Every year a new story begins in April and ends in June. Each time it's written differently. It will have new twists, new characters, and new champions. I am of course talking about the playoffs.
And, like every story, the NHL playoffs has a few heroes. But who are those key players? What did they accomplish? And how is it that they were able to rise above the other players in the same situation?
Here are five "characters" that made a huge splash in chapter two of the NHL playoffs.
5. Johan Franzen: F, Detroit Red Wings
Although the Red Wings were completely outplayed by the San Jose Sharks, Johan Franzen was a force to be reckoned with.
With their backs against the wall, Detroit came into a desperate Game Four where they were down 3-0 in the series. And Franzen responded. He came only a couple of seconds away from setting the record for the fastest hat trick in the NHL and ended up scoring four goals in the game.
Although this didn't make a huge difference in the series, it did resonate with Red Wing fans. Franzen gave some much needed momentum to a depleted Wings team and finally gave the fans something to cheer about in the second round. Unfortunately for the Wings, they were unable to continue the momentum in Game Five and were eliminated.
4. Matt Carle: D, Philadelphia Flyers
Carle is a player that easily could have gone under many people's radar. That includes the Boston Bruins. Although he hasn't scored any goals in the playoffs, he's still been a huge part of the Flyers' recent success.
Carle really stepped it up at the end of round two, tallying five assists during the three consecutive victories the Flyers had over the Bruins. Five of the 11 goals the Flyers have scored in the last three games have been set up by Carle. That includes the important overtime goal that was scored by Simon Gagne to force a Game Five.
He is also tied for the ninth best +/- rating in the NHL (+9) and has seen an average of 25 minutes of ice time over the course of the playoffs. He may not be the goal scoring defenseman, but he has been instrumental in the success of the team, both offensively and defensively.
3. Joe Pavelski: F, San Jose Sharks
Pavelski has been huge in the playoffs for the San Jose Sharks. Over the course of the playoffs he has scored nine goals, four of these coming in the second round.
His first two goals came in the Sharks 4-3 Game One victory. Coincidentally, Pavelski scored two goals in Game Two where the Sharks also won 4-3 in regulation. Four of the Sharks' eight goals in the first two games were off the stick of Joe Pavelski. He definitely stepped up his play and was instrumental in giving the Sharks a 2-0 series lead, a lead that the Wings would fail to overcome.
2. Jaroslav Halak: G, Montreal Canadiens
I don't think that this list would be complete without Jaroslav Halak. We thought that Halak stepped up in the first round against the Washington Capitals, but the fact that he was able to do it again in the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins is just a testament to how good of a goalie he actually is.
Halak had the NHL's fourth best save percentage (92.4 percent). This is despite having to battle Carey Price for the starting job. However, he was still able to be successful and have one of the best seasons he'll probably have in his career.
This success continued into the playoffs when he helped defeat the Washington Capitals after facing a boatload of shots in the final games. The same story occurred in the second round when he helped shut down another one of the NHL's best offenses in the Pittsburgh Penguins.
1. Michael Cammalleri: F, Montreal Canadiens
Cammalleri has been great all season. He scored 26 goals in 65 games and tallied a total of 50 points.
However, it's his playoff numbers that are making him stand above the crowd. Cammalleri has a league-leading 11 goals in the playoffs and is fourth in points (16).
In the first round, we were impressed by his five goals. But it was the second round that really stood out. To date, he has scored six goals in the second round and was instrumental in the Habs overtaking the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
The goal that sticks out the most is the first one he scored in Game Six. His goal came just over a minute into the game and really inspired the rest of his team. He ended up scoring the team's second goal in the second period before Jaroslav Spacek was able to gain the lead for the Habs.
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