With the second round under way, here is a look at five underperforming players that need to step up for their respective teams.
1. Marian Gaborik, Rangers
The Rangers’ leading scorer and point-getter in the regular season hasn’t been as effective here in the playoffs. Gaborik, who recorded 41 goals and 76 points in 82 games, has just one goal in eight playoff games. Goals may be hard to come by in their current series and the Rangers may be getting secondary production, but if the Rangers wish to take down advance further, Gaborik is going to have to up his game. He has gone seven straight games without a goal. That needs to change soon.
2. Ilya Bryzgalov, Flyers
Philadelphia got by Round 1 with a shaky Bryzgalov, but they won’t last much longer if he doesn’t improve on his postseason 3.83 goals-against average. Everyone in the hockey world knows Bryzgalov is a talented netminder, and it’s time for him to show it against New Jersey and beyond. He played well against New Jersey this season (3-0, 0.29 GAA), a signal that a turnaround is favorable. But he has to be the solid ‘Bryz’ we know he can be for the rest of these playoffs if the Flyers wish to end their 37-year championship drought.
3. David Backes, Blues
Backes, the Blues’ captain and top power forward, has struggled to find the back of the net this postseason. In six games he has two goals, his only points, and boasts a minus-4 rating. That isn’t an exact barometer for how he has played thus far, but the Blues need more from Backes from here on out. He has a skill-set that is well-suited for the playoffs and needs to be a factor against a bruising Kings club. Backes scored in front of the net off a deflection on Saturday in Game 1. The Blues would like to see more of that from their leader.
4. Jeff Carter, Kings
Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi gave up a top-four defenseman and a first-round pick for Carter’s services. When Carter hasn’t been nagged by an ankle injury, he’s been a solid addition. But the sniper, who could be playing through injury right now, has zero goals through six playoff games. His two assists came in Game 1 against Vancouver; since then Carter hasn’t been able to produce at all. The Kings need their second line to come up big against St. Louis, and Carter will be a big part of that.
5. Mike Fisher, Predators
The Predators haven’t gotten enough production out of their top-line center thus far. Fisher and his linemates – Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn – spent most of the first round containing Pavel Datsyuk. But now is the time for Fisher’s line to take off offensively. Fisher, who has no goals and two assists in six playoff games, appears to be snake-bitten. He’s had numerous chances to find the back of the net, but he can’t. The Predators need offense from the top line, and it starts with the triggerman Fisher.
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