Although the Sharks still have to find a way to finish off the Wings to advance and join the Canucks in the Western Conference Finals the eventual match-up will feature the 5 biggest playoff Houdini’s still active in the NHL. The Canucks and Sharks have both developed “choker” tags due to their lack of playoff success and in large part the blame has to fall on shoulders of the players listed below. For one of these teams this could be the season that they prove us all wrong… it will just depend which of these stars have learned how to adjust to playoff hockey.
All of these players do have something in common: Regular season success and accolades…. points come in bunches and seeing their names near or at the top of the scoring race is a regularity however when the playoffs start their production drops off for one reason or another. Playoff hockey is a different beast than regular season hockey and some players can’t make the necessary adjustments while others know what has to be done but just refuse to do it.
1) Henrik Sedin
Reg Season: 810 GP – 157 G – 509 A – 666 PTS – (+158)
Postseason: 78 GP – 18 G – 35 A – 53 PTS – (-12)
Over the past 2 seasons the Sedin twins have been possibly the most dynamic, entertaining, creative and dynamic duo in the NHL regular season. Back to back Art Ross trophy winners they have proven that they can fill the net however as we have all seen this postseason they can’t seem to figure out playoff hockey. Personally I don’t think they will ever figure it out because they don’t have the grit, determination and heart to persevere when they are tightly checked like they have been in the postseason. To win a Cup your best players have to be willing to do anything to win a cup… that includes doing things they normally wouldn’t do like block shots, throw a hit and go to the tough areas on the ice. Unless the Sedin’s learn what sacrifice is and realize that there are 3 zones the Canuck fans will continue to be disappointed.
2) Daniel Sedin
Reg Season: 787 GP – 249 G – 402 A – 651 PTS – (+146)
Postseason: 78 GP – 20 G – 32 A – 52 PTS (-8)
Explanation: See H. Sedin; for many including me it’s difficult to tell the two apart and the reasons for Daniel’s lack of postseason success are to similar to Henrik so I decided not to waste my time or yours with a different but eerily similar explanation.
3) Joe Thornton
Reg Season: 995 GP – 306 G – 695 A – 1,001 PTS – (+135)
Postseason: 102 GP – 17 G – 58 A – 75 PTS – (-24)
While I can’t blame Joe for a lack of success in Boston there are no excuses for his previous production levels during his Sharks postseason appearances. Joe did not have the surrounding talent required to win a Cup in Boston.. the same cannot be said for the Sharks. The one thing holding Joe back is his lack of physical play; during the regular season he seems to let his offensive talent compensate for his lack of physicality however his inability to bring both to the table in the postseason is probably why he is on this list. Listed at 6’4″ – 240 lbs he should be using his size as an advantage; if he played more physical he would create more space and time allowing his offensive talent to be even more prevalent. I will admit that during this postseaon it appears that Joe is playing a more complete game and as result that might give the Sharks the edge in the next round.
4) Patrick Marleau
Reg Season: 1,035 GP – 357 G – 409 A – 766 PTS – (+19)
Postseason: 117 GP – 47 G – 33 A – 80 PTS – (-8)
While Joe Roenick may have gone a little overboard with his comments a few days ago the underlying message and theme were spot on. Marleau has probably pulled the biggest disappearing act of this postseason with only 5 points on a Sharks team that has filled the net during this postseason. He has been shooting the puck a lot however he seems to have become frustrated and as a result stopped competing. Legendary hockey stars have always found a way to make a difference in other ways when their offensive production hits and skid and Marleau hasn’t made that adjustment. Roenick’s comments may just be the ultimate test for Marleau; I know I will be watching to see how he responds to someone questioning his integrity. If he responds it may just have been the kick in the ass he needed…. if not the Sharks may want to start shopping his services to allow for guys like Pavelski and Coture to play bigger roles and continue their development next year.
5) Dany Heatley
Reg Season: 669 GP – 325 G – 364 A – 689 PTS – (+69)
Postseason: 59 GP – 15 G – 40 A – 55 PTS – (-7)
Of all the players on this list his PPG average in the postseason is closest to 1.oo and is the only to have played in the Stanley Cup Finals. Finding the score sheet isn’t Heatley’s biggest problem it’s his inability to play all three zones that actually makes him a liability come playoff time. Having lived in Ottawa during their postseason run of ’07 I can say with certainty that all the credit for that run should go to guys like Alfreddson and Fisher not Heatley. He was a passenger by times is in my opinion the embodiment of a ” 1 Dimensional Hockey Player”. Every time I see this guy skate through the slot with his stick in the air it makes me sick; and if he was forced to play on a roster without a set-up man he would be virtually useless. He is another big body that refuses to play physical and I doubt he will ever figure playoff hockey out but not because he isn’t smart enough… it’s because he couldn’t care less. If the Sharks do manage to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup this spring believe me it won’t be as a result of Heatley’s commitment to playing a team game.
Did I leave someone off the list or do you disagree? Feel free to comment and let me know!
About the Author
Written by Kirk Butler
Born and raised in Murray Harbour - PEI. Like many Canadians hockey is my religion; as a kid I had the pleasure of playing my minor hockey with Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards of the 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning. I played competitive hockey until the age of 21 which included stops in the American Prep School System, Canadian Junior Hockey and the CIS. I now get my competitive fix on the golf course as a scratch golfer. More to come: Kirk Butler PEI, Canada