Unsung Hero: Five of the most unheralded playoff stars

Throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we’ll be spotlighting unsung heroes around the postseason on a weekly basis.

All the way along the Blackhawks run to the Stanley Cup, Michal Rozsival made quiet contributions. Heck, even after they won, he made another, filling the Cup with champagne after the game. Look at him up there. A role player to the end.

Rozsival picked up just four points, all of them assists, in the 2013 postseason, and two of those assists came in the wacky, eleven-goal Game 4 when everyone was getting on the board. In other words, he wasn't a big offensive contributor. In most games, he went largely unnoticed.

But that's what you need out of your bottom-pairing defencemen: to quietly, almost invisibly soak the minutes he's given. For 23 games, Rozsival did that impeccably.

Throughout the playoffs, Rozsival fluctuated between playing a little and a lot, and handled it brilliantly. He averaged 19:15 a night in the postseason, but he actually only finished inside 19 minutes three times. When Duncan Keith served his one-game suspension for his high stick to Jeff Carter, Rozsival saw 10 more minutes than he had in the previous three games. The Blackhawks won.

In a Final that saw a lot of OT, his minutes were everywhere. In Game 1, he cracked thirty minutes. In Game 4, he played 26:36. In Game 5, he played just fifteen minutes.

In other words, he was exactly what the Blackhawks needed him to be for however long they needed him to be it. That's an invaluable contribution.

Coming up, four more unsung heroes:

Bryan Bickell

Where Rozsival's contributions were quiet and difficult to spot, Bickell's were loud and often accompanied by the opening chords of "Chelsea Dagger". The Blackhawks' forward scored 9 goals in the postseason, and was a big part of the stacked Chicago line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane that helped turn the Stanley Cup Final around after the Blackhawks fell behind 2 games to 1.

Bickell actually hit something of a cold streak in the Final. After lighting the lamp eight times in the three previous rounds, he wouldn't score again until the second-to-last minute of Game 6.

That said, he picked a pretty good time to bump the slump. The goal tied the game, and 17 seconds later, Dave Bolland put the Blackhawks ahead for good.

Daniel Paille

Paired with Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly for Game 2 of the Final, Paille came alive. He was a non-factor in Game 1, finishing a minus-2. But he was a difference-maker for Boston after that, in on both goals and scoring the OT winner in Game 2.

In Game 3, he scored the winner again, and he was in on Boston's first goal in Game 6. They would go on to lose that one, but it's certainly not because Paille didn't show up.

Johnny Boychuk

Plenty of ink was spilled over the big minutes Zdeno Chara logged for Boston, and those minutes added up over the postseason. He finished with 649:38, over 40 minutes more than Duncan Keith, who was second in playoff usage.

The next-closest Bruin was Boychuk. He was also the only other Bruin to play over 500 minutes of playoff hockey at 526:28, and they weren't easy minutes. 54:33 of that came shorthanded, also second only to Chara. Boychuk was a pivotal part of the Boston defence that didn't get enough appreciation.

Slava Voynov

Voynov and the Kings only lasted three rounds, but the LA defender still managed to be the only player in the postseason with four game-winning goals. Between his timely scoring and his steady play, it's no wonder the Kings decided to keep him around for the next six years.

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