Fortunes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs can change in heartbeat. (Ask the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers about that.) So the following 10 players could easily turn their postseasons around with a big performance; and given that many of them play on Saturday, it's likely some of them will. Well, except for the Detroit Red Wing on the list ...
But, for the moment, these are the 10 skaters having the most disappointing playoffs. Important point No. 1: We are talking skaters, as in non-goalies. Important point No. 2: We limited it to one player for each team listed, because listing multiple disappointments for each team simply isn't fair to San Jose or Boston.
Here are the 10 most disappointing players/skaters in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs … Make sure to visit this post again tonight to thank us (or condemn us) for the motivation.
Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins
As said, we're trying to limit these to one per team, which made it difficult to select a Boston Bruin. Fact is that Tyler Seguin (zero points, 16 shots), Brad Marchand (zero points, minus-1) and Patrice Bergeron (1 assist, minus-1) have all been busts thus far. But we'll give the nod to Lucic because it's his physical game and offensive zone presence that the Bruins need in order to crack Braden Holtby and the Capitals defense. He stepped up in Game 3 and the Bruins were victorious. But he's been missing in action during the Capitals' two victories.
Dennis Wideman, Washington Capitals
Zero points for a puck-moving defenseman to go along with a minus-4 against his former team. As Joe Haggerty wrote during Game 4 against the Bruins: "Dennis Wideman has now been on ice for every 5-on-5 goal that the Bruins have scored this season. It looks like the Bruins were fully aware of the dead spots in his game, and capitalized when he pinched into the offensive zone as Alex Ovechkin was turning over a puck."
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
Patrick Marleau will shoulder most of the blame for the Sharks' 3-1 series deficit to the St. Louis Blues because that's what happens to Patrick Marleau in the playoffs. (Ask Roenick.) What's never happened, before this season, is Pavelski going scoreless in his first four playoff games. The Blues did a number on Marleau, Pavelski and Joe Thornton until the line was broken up, and Pavelski's yet to find his stride. He doesn't have a point on 11 shots, although he did hit a couple of posts against his old Wisconsin teammate Brian Elliott.
Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks
Granted, his one goal — a deflection on a Brent Seabrook point blast in Game 2 — earned the Blackhawks an overtime they would eventually end with a Bryan Bickell goal. But Sharp has pumped 17 shots on Mike Smith — ninth-most in the playoffs — without tallying another point while going minus-2. There's plenty of other blame to go around, and other offensive players not picking up the slack (paging Viktor Stalberg), but Sharp has the ability to be a point-per-game player in the postseason.
Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes
Vrbata had 35 goals in the regular season and was a plus-24. He's been limited to 1 assist and a minus-3 in four games against Chicago, but he also has an excuse: An upper body injury cost him most of Game 1, and he hasn't been the same since. Also a factor: His partner in crime Martin Hanzal was injured and missed Game 4. So he's been disappointing, but there are reasons for it.
Brad Stuart, Detroit Red Wings
While this is kicking dirt on the grave, given the Red Wings' elimination on Friday, Stuart's feeble 1-assist, minus-5 performance against the Predators shouldn't go unnoticed. It's widely assumed he's played his last game in Detroit, likely joining a West Coast team to be closer to family. After this performance, Wings fans might pay his freight.
Anton Volchenkov, New Jersey Devils
Although he rebounded in Game 4 to bring his plus/minus back to even and playing 16:19, his previous three games of the series were terrible: On the ice for nine of the 10 goals the Panthers have scored during the postseason. Is he finally playing out of it to become the defensive stopper the Devils need?
Chris Higgins, Vancouver Canucks
Both Ryan Kesler and Alex Edler have had their struggles against the Los Angeles Kings, but are trending upward. David Booth has one assist, but he's being elevated to play with the Sedins. That leaves us with Chris Higgins, who has no points, is a minus-3, has seen his ice time drop and is now playing on the Vancouver checking line. This after a 43-point season for Vancouver.
Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators
The Sens are 2-2 against the Rangers without much from Spezza, who has two assists in the series after an 84-point regular season. Of more concern is that he's given the puck away a team-leading six times.
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
How can a player with seven points in five games be a disappointment? Depends on whether you've watched the games or not. Malkin scored three of his points in that Game 4 massacre when he was a plus-4. Otherwise, he has four points in four games, is a minus-2 and was a non-factor in two of them. He needs to be the consistent, Hart Trophy frontrunner he was in the regular season.
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