3 — Dave Bolland, Chicago Blackhawks
Call it curse, call it fear, but the series dynamic changed when Dave Bolland was inserted into the lineup in Game 4. Coming off a concussion, nobody expected much of Bolland with his team down 3-0, but he came in and effectively shut down the Sedin twins. The twins had nine points in Games 1-through-3 prior to the insertion of Bolland, and they combined for just just three points in Games 4-through-7. While he was shutting down the Sedins, Bolland also recorded two goals and six points (granted, thanks to a heavily inflated on-ice shooting percentage of over 20%) in just four games played.
2 — Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
He didn’t score a goal, and his four assists weren’t exactly the offensive numbers expected out of him from a guy who picked him fourth overall in a playoff pool, but Ryan Kesler kept Jonathan Toews off the score sheet at even strength and won the possession battle against hockey’s best player in 2010. The two played over 22 minutes a game and Kesler certainly won the battle, keeping Chicago’s biggest star in check through the full seven games of the series.
1 — Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
What’s great about playoff hockey is the chance that a goalie will get red hot over the course of the series and win it singlehandedly. Take two starting goalies from Game One: The first is a veteran, a Vezina-and-Hart Trophy candidate in years past with an impressive resume, and the second is a rookie who has played in the minors for the better part of his early career. Which one was going to have issues? Which one was going to get pulled twice, and which one was going to be the red hot goalie that could have stolen his team the series?
Vancouver/Chicago III, for better or worse, may be remembered as Corey Crawford’s coming out party. Crawford had a .936 even strength save percentage throughout the series, numbers comparable with the performances of Tim Thomas and Carey Price in their goaltender duel out East in the Boston/Montreal series.
He was rock solid in the back third of the series, stopping four potential series-ending Grade-A chances in the third period of Game 7 (one off a penalty shot) and looked to be unbeatable entering the overtime.