As of last night, the first round of the 2013 NHL playoffs officially came to an end. In some ways, it's the best round to watch if only because of the sheer volume of games. We were getting to see up to four games in a day. Let's take a look at some of the performances that stood out in the first round.
David Krejci, Bruins - I'm not sure anyone had him in their pools to lead the first round in scoring. It helps that the series went to 7 games but he finished with 5+8=13, 16 shots, 12 hits, 2 PPP, and plus-9. He had points in all but one game during the series and put up three 3-point games including a hat trick. Your guess is as good as mine as to where this outburst came from. He had just 3 points in the 13 games leading into the playoffs. It likely bodes well for the Bruins that he was among their best players during their magical Stanley Cup run in 2010-2011 with 23 points in 25 games.
Derick Brassard, Rangers - The former sixth overall pick looks to be really digging Broadway. I'm not ready to say that he's finally realizing his potential but he's playing with a confidence that we haven't seen before. After going the first two games of the series without a point, he went off with 2+7=9 over the next five games. He was easily the Rangers' MVP of the series (among skaters, at least). And that's right, this was his first taste of the NHL playoffs.
Logan Couture, Sharks - He might have been the league leader if the Sharks didn't just blitz the Canucks and take them in four. He put up 3+5=8 with 11 shots and a ridiculous 6 PPP highlighted by a 4 point game in game 3. The PP production is astounding but the point production you could have seen coming. He finished the season with 7 points over his final 5 games.
Joe Pavelski, Sharks - Not to be outdone by his teammate, little Joe was a two point per game player as well with 4+4=8 over the four game sweep. He put up points in all four games with 5 PPP and a zesty 21 shots along the way. The scoring chances will surely be fewer and further between next round against the Kings.
Jarome Iginla, Penguins - This is why the Penguins traded for him. He's capable of being a force during any series. In all fairness, Evgeni Nabokov played dreadful and I feel like I could have even put up a point per game on him if I got 10 minutes of ice time per game. Iggy was tied for third in first round scoring with 2+7=9 in six games. He also had 3 PPP, 9 hits, 11 shots, and 14 PIM. It will only get tighter for Iginla and company as the stingy Sens come to town.
Zdeno Chara, Bruins - The first round's leading point getter among defensemen put up a multi-cat's dream with 1+7=8, 9 blocks, 10 PIM, 28 hits, 25 shots, and plus-6 over seven games. He was also ranked second in average TOI with 28:54. His modest 2 PPP was half of what he put up during the entire regular season despite playing in all 48 games. This gives you an idea of how unlikely his production was. He's now just one point behind his best career postseason output (9 points in 24 games of the 2010-2011 playoffs).
Marc Methot, Senators - The steady defenseman was a point per game player with 5 points in 5 games in 21:37 average time on ice for the series. He was also plus-2 with 7 blocks and 18 hits in those five games. I wouldn't expect the points to continue but the useful peripheral stats and important minutes he plays certainly will.
Francois Beauchemin, Ducks - His regular season was a pleasant surprise as he put up 24 points in 48 games with 8 PPP and plus-19. He hadn't played so productively since his rookie campaign in 2005-2006. He was one of the few bright spots for the Ducks in these playoffs with his 2+4=6, 3 PPP, 4 PIM, 8 hits, 13 shots, and 19 blocks in the 7 game loss to the Red Wings. He led the team in ice time with an average of 25:22.
Antti Niemi, Sharks - The Vezina finalist made it look easy as he won all four games allowing just 8 goals along the way. Even putting aside his 4-0 record, he was among the best goalies in the first round with peripherals that sparkled to the tune of .937 sv& and 1.87 gaa.
Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers - Speaking of Vezina finalists, the King basically stole the series from the Caps, shutting them out in two straight to close it out. He showed us why many think he's still the best goalie in the world as he completely shutdown Alex Ovechkin and the high powered Capitals offense. If we're still counting OT losses even though it's the playoffs he was 4-1-2 with a .947 sv% and 1.65 gaa.
Craig Anderson, Senators - Facing a Canadiens team that was tied for fourth in the league in goals, Anderson stood tall. His .950 sv% was only topped by Tomas Vokoun (through only two starts, however). He posted a gaa of 1.80 as the Sens rode him to what feels like a big upset, but with the league parity, I'm not sure there were any actual upsets. Can he stymie the league's top scoring team? I like his chances.
Corey Crawford, Blackhawks - Crawford silenced his critics for at least one round as he was probably the top goalie of the first round. He allowed just 7 goals in 5 games to the tune of a playoff best 1.32 gaa. He didn't allow more than two goals through regulation in any of the games and matched Craig Anderson with a .950 sv%. The Wild were no match for the Hawks in this series and something tells me that the Red Wings won't be either.
Honorable mentions: Jonathan Quick (4-1-1, .944 sv%, 1.58 gaa), Henrik Zetterberg (3+5=8, 4 PIM, 3 PPP, plus-3), Milan Lucic (2+7=9, 32 hits, 16 shots, plus-9), James van Riemsdyk (2+5=7, 33 shots, 16 hits, 3 PPP), Cody Franson (3+3=6, 33 hits, 15 shots, 3 PPP), Patrick Sharp (5+1=6, 22 shots, 10 hits, 2 GWG, plus-4), Evgeni Malkin (2+9=11, 22 shots, 13 PIM, 4 PPP), Daniel Alfredsson (2+4=6, 15 shots, 9 hits, 3 PPP, plus-5)