Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stanley Cup Revelations

Quite often in the Stanley Cup playoffs, previously unheralded players take their first step to the next level of stardom. I'm not refering to rookies like Dino Ciccarelli, Pat LaFontaine or Ken Dryden making a mark in a Cup Final. Nor do I mean the Chris Kontos/ John Druce kind of once-in-a-liftime scoring explosion. I'm talking about guys like Dave Bolland, Claude Giroux and Ville Leino.

Dave Bolland was a junior sniper, scoring 130 points in his last OHL season with the London Knights. Chicago selected him 32nd overall in 2004. This past season, returning from back surgery he matched his rookie year stats with 16 points in 39 games. However in his second year, 2008/09 he began to show flashes of what he can become as a player scoring 19 goals and 47 points. In this year's playoffs he has scored 12 points and is a +6, while shutting down the opponents top scorers at every turn.

Claude Giroux was a first round draft pick (22nd overall) of the Flyers in 2006 and had a stellar junior career with the Gatineau Olympiques. He scored 321 points in 187 Quebec League games and would pile up 51 in 19 playoff games in 2008. After scoring a point per game with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 08/09 he made the jump to the big club and had 27 points in half a season. This past year he had 16 goals, 47 points while playing every game. His playing time in the playoffs has gone up from 16:37 per game to almost 19:00 in the post season. After his overtime winner in game three, Giroux has 20 points in 20 games with a +9 and is a even a darkhorse for the Conn Smythe.

Ville Leino was signed by Detroit two years ago after scoring 77 points in 55 games for Jokerit of the Finnish League. He was named Outstanding Player of the League and would become the "best player" Mike Babcock ever had to send to the minors. He scored almost a point per game in Grand Rapids of the AHL before tallying 13 points in 10 playoff games for the Griffins. Philadelphia picked up Leino in early February for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a pick.
He collected a mere 4 points in 13 Flyers matches, but his playing time has gone up by three minutes per game in the playoffs and he has produced. Leino has 15 points in 16 games including 3 in 3 Finals games and has been showing dazzling ability with the puck.

Perhaps not such a huge revelation, the fact that Joe Thornton is second to last in the NHL these playoffs with a -11 rating. During the Semi-finals alone, Jumbo Joe was a -5 in four games to go with his precious one assist. Overall for his career, Thornton now has played 91 playoff games and sports a -23 +/- rating and has 65 points.

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