There are always breakout players in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that come out of nowhere, and this year was no exception. Here are the top five from the 2010 postseason…
1. Ville Leino Philadelphia acquired Leino mid-season in exchange for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a draft pick. Yeah, I’d say that was a steal! Leino was magnificent all postseason long for this team, as he contributed 21 points while playing on the second line between Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere. Even more surprisingly, he was a healthy scratch for the first four games of the playoffs. Leino scored some big goals in these last two rounds, and was more than just an unsung hero for Philly during their magical run. 2. Dustin Byfuglien ‘Big Buff’ wasn’t much of a factor against Nashville in round one, as he spent as much time playing defense as he did up front. But boy oh boy did he become a force from the second round on, or what?! Byfuglien picked up his first points of the postseason when he broke out in Vancouver with a hat trick. He also scored in five straight games (including the whole series against San Jose), and even netted three game-winners. In the final, Byfuglien got better and better, racking up five points in the last two games. He may have established himself as one of the best power forwards in the league with his playoff performance. 3. Jaroslav Halak You know you’ve made it in Montreal when people convert stop signs into ‘Halak’ signs! In losses, the Slovak was bad (3.77 GAA) and was even yanked three times in favor of Carey Price. When the Habs won, though, he turned into the Great Wall of Halak. In 9 wins, he compiled a 1.52 GAA and possessed a .961 save percentage. He was rock-solid between the pipes on most nights, and carried the 8th-seeded Canadiens past the high-flying Caps and Pens on its Cinderella run. Halak, a pending RFA, will be hearing the cash register this summer. 4. Claude Giroux It’s no secret that Giroux was one of Philadelphia’s most important players this postseason. When he had a big game, the team usually won (and vice versa). Giroux, like Leino, had 21 points for the Flyers, including 10 goals. He also provided solid two-way play, teaming up with Mike Richards on a lethal penalty kill. Much has been expected of Giroux ever since coming into the NHL. Judging by his great playoff, he has officially arrived! 5. Joe Pavelski Yes, Pavelski's play faded in the Western Conference Finals with Chicago, only tallying two assists in the four games. With that being said, let’s not forget what he meant to the Sharks in the first two rounds. For a 7-8 game stretch, Pavelski was the team’s most important player, delivering in the clutch time and time again. It’s safe to say the Sharks wouldn’t have beaten 8th-seeded Colorado without ‘Joe Pa’. Little Joe came up big this postseason for San Jose!
Top 5 Individual Performances: 1. Jaroslav Halak, Games 5-7 vs. WSH – 131 saves, 3 GA (.978%) 2. Johan Franzen, Game 4 vs. SJ – 4 goals, 2 assists 3. Craig Anderson, Game 3 vs. SJ – 51 saves, shutout 4. Joe Pavelski, Games 1-2 vs. DET – 4 goals, 2 assists 5. Jonathan Toews, Game 4 vs. VAN – 3 goals, 2 assists
Tomorrow we'll have a lot more 'Top 5' pieces from the playoffs!
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.