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 22, 2016
#3) Thomas Greiss, NY Islanders: 47 saves/48 shots, Win
As of now, it’s more than fair to say that Greiss is outplaying Roberto Luongo in this series and that is a bit of a shocker. Not because Greiss is a bad goalie, but Luongo is a seasoned vet and has had some postseason success earlier in his career. But it was the Islanders goalie that has stolen games in this series, none bigger than Game 5 on the road where he was a brick wall, finishing three saves shy of 50 through almost five full periods of hockey. No save was bigger than the penalty shot save on Barkov in the first overtime. That could be the save that ultimately propels the Isles to the second round – if they can close it out in Sunday’s Game 6.
Barkov was 5-of-6 in the shootout, inc. 3 game deciding gls, during the regular season. He was stopped by Thomas Greiss in 1st OT tonight.
— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) April 23, 2016
The Greiss is riiiight! 💯🔥 pic.twitter.com/fbdp7IP8UM
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 23, 2016
#2) Mikko Koivu, Minnesota: 2 goals, GWG in overtime
The Wild captain stepped up when it mattered most for his team – tying the game with 3:09 left in regulation and then he forced a Game 6 when he tipped Ryan Suter’s point shot 4:55 into overtime. Koivu only had three shots on goal in the game and he made two of them count – that’s efficiency; and he also blocked four shots in 23:44 (second among Minnesota forwards). Many had the Wild left for dead, especially after the Game 1 in Dallas, but it’s Koivu who has both of the game-winning goals in this series for the Wild.
— Minnesota Wild PR (@mnwildPR) April 23, 2016
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 23, 2016
#1) Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia: 44 saves/44 shots, Win, Shutout
Once again with their season on the line Neuvirth saved the Flyers’ bacon as he turned aside a wide variety of 44 Washington shots while his mates only mustered a mere eleven aka 11. Only three Capitals DIDN’T have a shot on goal, Alex Ovechkin had eight all by himself, or three less than the entire Flyers team. The former Capital has now backstopped his team to back-to-back wins on the brink of elimination as the series shifts back to Philly for a very interesting Game 6.
Michal Neuvirth's save percentage in the last two games – 98.6% (75/76)
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) April 23, 2016
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 23, 2016
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 23, 2016
Alan Quine, NY Islanders: GWG in overtime/Brent Burns, San Jose: 3 assists
Nights like this one are really tough only picking three players, so many are deserving. Hard to leave these two off but had to give them some love. Quine was the unlikely hero for the Isles in Game 5, banging home a PPG in double-overtime to give his team two chances to close out the Panthers now. Alan Quine is what the NHL playoffs are all about. On any given night any player can be the hero that changes the course of a team’s history. Burns was a big x-factor in the Sharks dispatching the Kings in a surprising five games. He had eight points (2g-6a) in this five games and is going to be hard to handle going forward for either Anaheim or Nashville in round 2.
— NHL (@NHL) April 23, 2016
Joe Pavelski (SJ): 5
Brian Elliott (StL): 5
Michal Neuvirth (Phil): 5
Nikita Kucherov (TB): 4
Tyler Johnson (TB): 3
Braden Holtby (Wash): 3
Thomas Hickey (NYI): 3
Alex Ovechkin (Wash): 3
Antti Niemi (Dal): 3
Evgeni Malkin (Pitt): 3
John Tavares (NYI): 2
Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 2
Roberto Luongo (Fla): 2
Tanner Pearson (LA): 2
Frederik Andersen (Ana): 2
Ben Bishop (TB): 2
Mikko Koivu (Minn): 2
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.