Saturday, March 10, 2012

Players who could impact the NHL playoff race

"I start to play good when we fire our coach, hahahaha!!! ... we fired Bruce Who-dreau???"

As the NHL regular season winds down into its final quarter, the playoff race is tight in both conferences, despite Eastern Conference teams seemingly trying everything they can to miss the playoffs.  As you might expect, teams are banking on certain players to have a significant impact on the playoff race, so I figured I'd mention a few of them.

Sidney Crosby - Most times, teams are thrilled when players can have a positive impact on their own team, yet every time Sidney Crosby's name is mentioned in NHL locker rooms recently, goalies seem to freeze and pass out.  Except for Maple Leafs goaltenders, since they've already headed for the showers by the second period.

Ilya Bryzgalov - Ilya Bryzgalov seems to have saved his season, and there's a good reason why.  He's spent all season trying to find the exact spot in the universe where his former team, the Phoenix Coyotes will be playing next season, after finding no results for "2012-13 Coyotes season tickets."

Alexander Radulov - Due to a bizarre set of circumstances, Radulov might actually come to the NHL this season and play with the Preds in the playoffs.  If he gets the Preds past the first round, he'd be the first russian hockey player named "Alexander" to succeed in the NHL playoffs.

Wojtek Wolski - Wolski was brought in to help to help the Panthers in shootouts, which proves how long it's been since the Panthers have made the playoffs.  I wonder what the Panthers' reaction will be when they pass five minutes in overtime during the playoffs and Wolski steps onto the ice for his shootout attempt as the other team scores on a 5-on-1.

Antti Niemi - A former Stanley Cup champion goaltender, Niemi may have to help the Sharks get through their late-season slump if they're going to make the playoffs.  He should also tell head coach Todd McLellan to stop telling his team to treat every game like a playoff game, because it's been working lately.

Jonathan Toews - If Toews returns to the Chicago lineup in time for the playoffs, it'll be amazing how much better the Hawks could be in the blink of an eye...assuming we're not waiting on Toews to blink.

Travis Zajac - If Zajac can return for the playoffs, the Devils would have three very strong lines and could make a playoff run due to their offensive depth.  Not like that matters, though, since according to every single hockey fan outside of New Jersey, the Devils are just a boring, trap team.

Alexander Ovechkin - Just as the Penguins hope for Sidney Crosby's return to their lineup in the near future, the Caps are hoping Alex Ovechkin returns soon.  Alex Semin's return would be welcomed, too.  Nicklas Backstrom, too.  Hell, if anyone decides to show up, the Caps could be good again.