It’s the most, wonderful time, of the yearrrrrrrr! Who doesn’t love playoff hockey right? This is what we wait all season for, this is why most of us became fans of the game, as the postseason captivates us year after year after year. My personal favorite part is the dying minutes of a one-goal game when everything is a scramble, bodies are diving everywhere, pucks are zipping around the zone and the intensity is as high as can be. Until we get to overtime that is, when it become full-on, tighten your butt cheeks, gasp and cringe with every shot end-to-end action (WITH NO COMMERCIALS!!).
Who will hoist the 2016 Stanley Cup?
With the team I cover out of the playoffs (again), I relish the opportunity to write a little out of character and enjoy the playoffs as a fan of the game, and pick my three stars of each night like our friends over at Yahoo!/Puck Daddy blog do throughout the season. You can find player standings at the bottom of each post with three points for being the no. 1 star, two for no. 2 and one for no. 3 and on some nights we’ll have an honorable mention.
April 17, 2016
#3) Craig Smith, Nashville: goal, assist
A twenty-goal scorer three years running, Smith may be one of the more underrated players in the league and likely one many fans aren’t familiar with. But the Preds and their fan base certainly know his value as he has 14 game-winning goals over those three seasons. Agent Smith helped set up the tying goal in the final minute of the first period and then netted his third career goal midway through the second, helping Nashville steal the first two games of the series at the Pond. Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg earned strong consideration for this spot as each had superb Game 2s.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) April 18, 2016
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 18, 2016
#2) Brian Elliott, St. Louis: 44 saves/46 shots, Win
The Blackhawks bombarded the Blues netminder with shot after shot and when it mattered most, Elliott was there to stop them all — allowing his team to mount a comeback against a team that hadn’t lost when starting the third period with a lead in the playoff since 2014. St. Louis quickly regained home-ice advantage in the series after putting the clamps on Chicago’s skill players and tallying two third period markers. Once the calendar turned to 2016 Elliott has been lights out for the Blues and he is certainly giving them their best chance to advance in quite some time — St. Louis has held Toews, Kane, Panarin, Ladd and Hossa to a combined one goal over the first three games.
— NHL (@NHL) April 17, 2016
#1) Thomas Hickey, NY Islanders: GWG in overtime
The former LA Kings draft pick capped off a wild Islanders comeback, netting the game-winner in overtime, beating old man Jagr to the open spot in the slot where Brock Nelson put the puck perfectly from behind the net. Hickey’s only other career overtime goal came earlier this month in Washington – which clinched a playoff spot for New York. One of the main reasons I love the Stanley Cup playoffs and feel they are always so entertaining is because you never know who is going to be the hero on a given night, and that my friends, is what teamwork is all about. The blueliner was tied for second on the team with four shots on goal in Game 3 and despite his six giveaways on the night, he’s still my number one star because he stepped up the most when his team needed him to with the game on the line.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 18, 2016
— NHL (@NHL) April 18, 2016
Joe Pavelski (SJ): 5
Brian Elliott (StL): 5
Tyler Johnson (TB): 3
Braden Holtby (Wash): 3
Thomas Hickey (NYI): 3
John Tavares (NYI): 2
Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 2
Roberto Luongo (Fla): 2
Nikita Kucherov (TB): 1
Reilly Smith (Fla): 1
Corey Crawford (Chi): 1
JT Miller (NYR): 1
Craig Smith (Nash): 1
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.