By Nick Villano @nick_villano on April 11, 2014
The NHL playoffs are almost upon us, and the best part of the season will be just as exciting as ever. There are a few players who will look to carry their teams on their back with the main goal being a Stanley Cup. These ten players will be crucial to how their teams do in the postseason.
Jonathan Quick has shown in the past two seasons that he has the capabilities to carry his team deep into the playoffs. If he can do it again, the Kings can be a sleeper team for the Cup.
The San Jose Sharks are the team that nobody is talking about. They don't get the national coverage that other teams around them are getting. That being said, they have a few players who can help them make a cup. Joe Pavelski can take a game over by himself as he will most likely finish the season over 40 goals. His play will make or break the Sharks.
There aren't many defensemen in the league today who can take over games for their team. P.K. Subban is one who can. His powerful shot from the point can score at any time. He can lead the Canadiens by example while they try to survive the Atlantic Division.
The Blues seem to be good on the defensive side of the puck. If they can get either Alexander Steen or David Backes to break out into superstardom, they could become unstoppable.
Marc-Andre Fleury has gone four straight years without a playoff save percentage over .900. That is, in a word, awful. For the Penguins to survive the Eastern Conference, Fleury needs to play to the standard he has kept in the regular season. If he can't, then they will be going home early.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the early winners of the Martin St. Louis trade. Ryan Callahan has really taken to the team and St. Louis has been a ghost offensively. With Bishop out, Callahan has to act as if he is captain again and lead his team through the playoffs.
Jonas Hiller has had an up-and-down year. There are times when he could be a top five goalie, and other times he seems like he should sit behind Frederik Andersen (when he is healthy). Hiller will be the guy for the top-seeded Ducks going into the playoffs. This team cannot afford another disappointing playoff loss.
With Matt Duchene out, the Colorado Avalanche really need other players to step up until he returns. If the Avs are going to survive the defending champs, Landeskog has to play like a ten-year veteran.
Patrick Kane is currently recovering from a lower body injury, but he will be back for the playoffs. He carried his team to the Cup last year, and the Chicago Blackhawks need a healthy Kane if they are going to make noise again.
Tuukka Rask better hope the demons of that final game last season don't affect him this year. He has carried the Bruins to the best record in the East. Now he has to carry the team back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
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