NHL: The Unsung Heroes of the Playoffs

Most teams in the NHL playoffs have compiled a vast variety of talented individuals who contribute their own set of skills to the team. However, sometimes there are players that are often overlooked on every team. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t talented themselves. So, here’s a list of the unsung heroes on every NHL playoff team in 2018!

Vegas Golden Knights: Alex Tuch

Tuch has quickly made his name known in ‘Sin City’ as the new expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights, have become the NHL’s biggest discussed team. With a lot already revolving around his team, it is easy to understand how Tuch can be overlooked, especially with players like William Karlsson and Marc-Andre Fleury. Tuch is a rookie this season and had an impressive regular season with 15 goals and 37 points to start his NHL career. When the playoffs started, the Tuch train just kept rolling! He ranks third on his team in goals for the playoffs with four and fourth in points with seven; not bad for a rookie.

San Jose Sharks: Tomas Hertl

Hertl is a name that people recognize, but couldn’t say a thing about. Being on a team with top players like Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, it is clear to see why this player can be overlooked. Hertl had six goals during his team’s playoff run. He has shown some serious offensive skills even contributing with two game-winning goals against Anaheim and an 8-1 blowout win against Anaheim.

Winnipeg Jets: Kyle Connor

Connor is a player that is slowly growing in the league. This rookie has done nothing but impress the hockey community, scoring over 30 goals as a rookie is just mind blowing. With his slick hands and able to deke around the defense like a hot knife through butter, Connor dishes out some sweet assists to enhance his team’s offense. Despite his impressive skills, Connor was not nominated for the rookie Calder trophy and can have the spotlight taken from him due to top players like Mark Scheifle and Patrik Laine, which is why he is Winnipeg’s unsung hero.

Nashville Predators: Viktor Arvidsson

Arvidsson is a huge part of the Nashville offense, but is very hard to grasp much attention being alongside big names such as Ryan Johanssan and Filip Forsberg who pretty much stole the show in this year’s playoffs with goals from between the legs and breakaways. Arvidsson still showed some clutch-style plays scoring his five goals and one game winning goal. He even scored an empty netter to seal Game 6 against the Jets to give his team a fighting chance in his two-goal game that game.

Anaheim Ducks: Hampus Lindholm

Despite a very short playoff run, Lindholm was a part of the very little offense that was displayed for the Ducks. If it was a goal he scored or an assist, he contributed the most for the Ducks in the playoffs. However, he is often overlooked as other players such as Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ricard Rakell seem to stand out in the spotlight. Lindholm still seems to shine in the background.

Colorado Avalanche: Tyson Barrie

Barrie has built a rep for himself in Colorado over the years. Despite not being a big goal scorer, Barrie can dish out some excellent assists to boost his team’s offense. Despite the short playoff run, he was a part of some big goals that kept the Avalanche in games or gave them the lead. The reason he is the Avalanche’s unsung hero, is because his play can go unnoticed due to being with skilled players such as Nathan Mackinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Most of those players’ success have come from Barrie’s assists. Without Barrie and his six-year veteran leadership, the Avalanche most likely wouldn’t have gotten themselves back into the playoffs.

Minnesota Wild: Mikko Koivu

Koivu is a 13-year veteran on the Wild and is definitely a fan favorite. Despite his veteran and loyalty status, Koivu is often overlooked by such stars like Zach Parise and Devyn Dubnyk. Although his team didn’t make a deep playoff run, Koivu’s leadership still shined along with his ability to dish out some sweet assists.

Los Angeles Kings: Paul LaDue

It is very hard to pick an unsung hero for a team that was shutout twice and scored only three goals in an entire four-game series. However, this choice was narrowed down to LaDue, a young right-handed defenseman. He was drafted in the sixth round in 2012. LaDue played only 12 games in the regular season and only two in the playoffs, but he was chosen as the Kings’ unsung hero mainly because of his strong offensive display in Game 2 against Vegas; LaDue was the only player on the Kings who scored a goal. He scored a goal that tied the game and would eventually give the Kings their longest fighting chance in this series, despite losing. He can easily be overlooked for many reasons such as being a rookie and playing behind defensemen Dion Phaneuf and Drew Doughty. Also, its kind of hard to grab the spotlight when you have Jonathan Quick on your roster!

New Jersey Devils: Blake Coleman

Coleman isn’t a familiar name around the league unless you’re a Devils fan, but he was chosen as New Jersey’s unsung hero mainly because of his important offensive contributions. In important games, such as Game 3 against the Lightning, he gave the Devils a safety cushion with a two-goal lead and gave his team a fighting chance in Game 2 by scoring late in the third to cut their deficit to two goals. Coleman can easily be overlooked with players such as Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmeri, and rookie Nico Hischier on his team. His offensive contributions shouldn’t go unnoticed, which is why he is NJ’s unsung hero.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Brayden Point

When you think of the Lightning, names like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Andrei Vasilevskiy might come to mind. Underneath all that impressive talent lays Point. He was a big surprise as he has had numerous clutch plays throughout the entire postseason. He’s notched six goals and 14 points so far in the playoffs. Point has helped push his team all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four years. Due to the fact that his name can get mixed in with all those big names, including the late trade acquisitions, he was decided on being the Lightning’s unsung hero.

Boston Bruins: Torey Krug

With an offensive dynamo like Boston, most of their scoring comes from key players like Brad Marchand, David Pastranak, and Patrice Bergeron. With all those goals, the assists are a big part of that scoring, which is why, since he can be overlooked by all that offense, Krug is Boston’s unsung hero. He had an assist on the game winning goal and scored the game-tying goal in Game 7 against Toronto. He even ignited the offense in Game 4 and had two assists in Boston’s comeback attempt in Game 5, which gave his team a huge fighting chance.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Kasperi Kapanen

When you think of the Maple Leafs, the first thing that comes to mind is the word “young” and that pretty much sums it up. They are one of the youngest teams in the league with a roster full of kids that range from Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and even some veterans like Frederick Andersen and Patrick Marleau. Hidden on that roster lays a player that is just as skilled in Kapanen. Despite having relatively low stats, Kapanen played in just 38 games and seven playoff games this season. He has still played with full effort. The only goal he scored was in Game 7, which gave the Leafs a very late second period lead and gave them hope that they could win. He can often be forgotten with the talent on the roster, but with Kapanen’s skills in creating scoring chances and a scoring ability of his own he is the Maple Leafs unsung hero.

Washington Capitals: Devante Smith-Pelly

Smith-Pelly has been all around the league in a matter of five years, where one year he was at the top of his game helping Anaheim compete in the playoffs, then in Montreal, getting traded to New Jersey in the middle of the 2015-2016 season, and signing with Washington. During his five years, Smith-Pelly has faced some struggles on the score sheet just barely missing the 10-goal plateau every single year. In addition, being moved every so often must be damaging to a players’ confidence, but Smith-Pelly has been able to put all that behind him and help the Capitals in a deep playoff run. Along with being on the same roster as Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetzov, Smith-Pelly can easily be overlooked.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Matt Calvert

Calvert definitely stepped his game up during the season and proved to be a valuable asset in the playoffs. He helped boost the Blue Jackets to a 2-0 series lead over the Capitals at one point in the playoffs with an overtime game-winning goal. Although he isn’t a power forward, his eight-year NHL career has proven him to be a very useful leader on the team. Although he won’t match up to captain Nick Foligno’s leadership skills, Calvert is considered Columbus’ unsung hero for his clutch plays in the playoffs and his exceptional leadership.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Bryan Rust

Rust has been progressing, statistically, since he started in the league in 2014-2015. His scoring ability led him to put up a career-high 38 points in a single season. He was even scoring three goals in the playoffs in the Penguins’ fairly short playoff run. After losing to Washington in the second round, despite putting up a fair amount of points, Rust can be overlooked by top players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, and Phil Kessel.

Philadelphia Flyers: Sean Couturier

Couturier had one heck of a season, more than doubling his points per season with 76 points! Despite having an amazing in the regular season, Couturier was almost overlooked with new additions and young kids like Nolan Patrick, Ivan Provorov, and Travis Konecny along with other veterans like Claude Giroux. Couturier scored five goals and nine points overall in the playoffs. What makes him the Flyers unsung hero is the fact that he gave over 110 percent effort on a torn MCL during the playoffs; truly inspirational.

Every player on a team is as important as the superstars, but some go unnoticed. Each team has their unsung hero who contributes their own set of skills to their respected team. Those skills range from veteran-experience, leadership, or just amazing scoring abilities. Regardless, these players shouldn’t go unnoticed.

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