Lesser-Known Key Players in the Lightning-Capitals series

We all know that guys like Ovechkin, Stamkos, Semin, St. Louis, etc. are going to have a huge impact on this series so I thought a fun idea would be to look at some other players who I feel will be key parts in this series since there’s actually a few, especially on the Lightning.

Washington:

Marcus Johansson


4 points in the first round and he usually gets moved around on the first three lines but he usually does well when given good linemates. Still has some brutal corsi and face-off numbers but I honestly don’t see why whenever I watch him. He’s shown to be good in his own zone and has some solid playmaking skills so I think he will be a factor in this series.

Brooks Laich


Had the most shorthanded ice-time among forwards in the Rangers series and was given a lot of defensive assignments (33.9 OZ start%) but he was placed on the top line for game 5 in place of Mike Knuble. The status of Knuble is still up in the air so Laich could get more time on that line and we might see him get his first goal of the post-season. If not, his penalty killing has been outstanding and it’s good to have someone who can win defensive zone face-offs like he can. We might see more of that if Nicklas Backstrom scoring troubles continue.

Boyd Gordon


Like Laich (hah), he’s an excellent penalty killer and was buried with defensive zone starts in the Rangers series with only 10% of his starts coming in the offensive zone. Also somehow managed to get 11 shots on goal despite that. Also, 21/36 on defensive zone faceoffs. That’s pretty damn good.

John Erskine


Had the best corsi rating on the team against the Rangers and actually played really well in his own zone. Wonder if it’s because he’s possibly battling for ice time with Dennis Wideman returning? You can never have too many d-men playing well, though. Which brings me to my next player…

Scott Hannan


Only on ice for one goal allowed against the Rangers and has gotten the most ice time out of anyone on the Capitals. Him and Jeff Schultz were also on ice for the least amount of shots per game. Now why these two weren’t playing as a tandem for most of the series is what I’m wondering but Schultz/Green haven’t been bad either.

Tampa Bay

Sean Bergenheim


Tampa Bay’s best forward in terms of balanced corsi during the regular season, which is probably because he gets a lot of defensive zone starts and usually does a good job at moving the puck in the right direction. He had 14 goals and 15 assists this season and three goals against Pittsburgh. Guys who can kill penalties and still contribute offensively like him are pretty key in the playoffs.

Dominic Moore


I’m sure we know all about this guy from the Montreal series last year. He also plays in a defensive role but still put up points. He’s also a good face-off guy and has shown some decent play-making skills. It should also be noted that him and Bergenheim usually play on a line together and they do well against weaker competition (aka 3rd line/defense pairing).

Ryan Malone


Has prior playoff experience and still a pretty dangerous scorer. He was kind of forgotten about this year with injuries issues and guys like Stamkos and St. Louis lighting up the scoresheet but the Caps shouldn’t look over him at all in this series. I know his numbers are underwhelming but I think he will make an impact. Just watch game 6 against Pittsburgh.

Eric Brewer


Plays in every situation and also has past playoff experience. He also was arguably the Lightning’s best defenseman in the first round. He led them in ice time and had 5 points. He doesn’t exactly play the role of a shut-down guy but one thing the Lightning lacked all season was depth on the pack end and a guy who could move the puck aside from Kubina. He has given them just that.

Brett Clark


Has a great shot and was on ice for only one goal against. Him and Victor Hedman have been pretty solid as a pairing in the playoffs but it’s interesting that Clark hasn’t been contributing offensively yet considering his potential. This is why I would keep an eye on him.

Steve Downie


Let’s see…an agitating winger who can still score a lot of goals, will see a lot of ice-time and has a history of past incidents against the Caps. Yep, sounds like someone to worry about.

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