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.
May 15, 2016
#3) Joe Pavelski, San Jose: assist
The Sharks captain had another magnificent game, despite his team coming out on the wrong side of the final score, and was a force that the Blues need to figure out how to contain for the rest of the series; or else it’ll get ugly quickly. Originally credited with a deflection goal, that was later deemed to also be deflected by his teammate Hertl, Pavelski finished Game 1 with a game-high seven shots on goal and won 75% of the face-offs he took. If San Jose wins the Stanley Cup, he will be the Conn Smythe winner unless Martin Jones pitches four straight shutouts.
Darren Pang on scoreboard, talking about Elliott's save on Pavelski: "I pulled a groin watching him go to his right like that."
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) May 16, 2016
— NBC Sports Bet (@NBCSportsBet) May 16, 2016
#2) Brian Elliott, St. Louis: 31 saves/32 shots, Win
The Blues goalie was on his game again in Game 1, limiting the high-powered Sharks offense to one goal on 32 shots — five of those saves coming with St. Louis shorthanded. San Jose really took it to the Blues in the second period, firing 16 shots that were all kept out of the net and in the third period they mounted several chances and there were three to four goalmouth scrums that Elliott also came out on top in. He’s now moved into the top spot for the Conn Smythe Trophy in my mind.
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) May 16, 2016
#1) David Backes, St. Louis: PP goal
Backes led by example in Game 1, setting the tone for the rest of the series and not just because he scored the first goal of the series — albeit a sort of awkward one when he deflected a point shot in while trying to duck out of the way. He led the forwards on his team in shorthanded ice-time, had a game-high eleven hits, or three less than the entire Sharks team, and a team-high five shots on goal. Oh, and one beard pull on Joe Thornton (see below). He was a royal pain for San Jose all night long and was a big reason that the Sharks are now trailing in a series this postseason for the first time.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 16, 2016
THEY’RE YANKING EACH OTHER’S BEARDS pic.twitter.com/kazny94Lhs
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 16, 2016
Joe Pavelski (SJ): 12
Brian Elliott (StL): 11
Braden Holtby (Wash): 8
Nikita Kucherov (TB): 7
Victor Hedman (TB): 6
David Backes (StL): 6
Michal Neuvirth (Phil): 5
John Tavares (NYI): 5
Pekka Rinne (Nash): 5
Tyler Johnson (TB): 5
Matt Murray (Pitt): 5
Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 5
Ben Bishop (TB): 5
Troy Brouwer (StL): 5
Alex Ovechkin (Wash): 4
Nick Bonino (Pitt): 4
Thomas Hickey (NYI): 3
Antti Niemi (Dall): 3
Evgeni Malkin (Pitt): 3
Artemi Panarin (Chi): 3
TJ Oshie (Wash): 3
Radek Faksa (Dall): 3
Kris Letang (Pitt): 3
Mike Fisher (Nash): 3
Kari Lehtonen (Dall): 3
Carl Hagelin (Pitt): 3
Phil Kessel (Pitt): 3
Robby Fabbri (StL): 3
Ondrej Palat (TB): 3
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.