Winning the Stanley Cup is definitely a team effort, but there’s no question that individual player performances also affect the outcome of the playoffs. Some players raise their games in the postseason while others struggle and others play at the same level during the regular campaign and the playoffs.
The list below consists of the 20 most shocking player statistics from the 2016 NHL Playoffs. Some of them are surprising while others may not be at all to some fans. The list includes rookies and veterans from all positions on the ice. For interest sake, we’ve generally included the players regular-season statistics as well to see how he played in the postseason compared to the regular 2015-16 campaign.
Those who struggled were surprising because they performed well in the first 82 contests of the year and are also regarded as respected and fine career players. Perhaps one of the biggest shocks were well-known star players who failed to score a goal in this year’s postseason. These include Corey Perry, Jaromir Jagr, Jonathan Toews, Claude Giroux, Eric Staal, Jakob Silfverberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Drew Doughty, Milan Lucic, Ryan Suter, Tomas Tatar, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Mike Ribeiro, Tyler Toffoli, Marian Gaborik and Mike Richards.
Anyway, the 2015-16 playoffs have just concluded with the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in six games over San Jose for their fourth title. Sidney Crosby was perhaps a controversial choice for the Conn Smythe, but overall the postseason was memorable and enjoyable.
20 David Backes’ Clutch Goals
Centre David Backes of the St. Louis Blues led all players in the postseason with two overtime winners. It doesn’t sound like a great amount, but he also came in second in the league with Sidney Crosby with three game-winners in the playoffs. Three of Backes’ seven goals won games for the Blues while four of Joe Pavelski’s 14 markers were game-winners. The Blues captain Backes scored in the clutch in the postseason by equaling his 2015-16 regular-season total of three game-winners. He also led the playoffs with 93 hits in his 20 games.
19 Paul Stastny Goes 58.5% on Faceoffs
Centre Paul Stastny of the St. Louis Blues managed to win 58.5& of his faceoffs in the playoffs. This is quite a feat considering he took 422 draws. He went 247-175 in the red dot and won 71.9% of draws on the power play and 60% of them when shorthanded. The top faceoff man during the regular season with at least 1,500 draws to his name was Chicago’s Jonathan Toews at 58.6%. Stastny went 56.1% in the regular season on 1220 faceoffs.
18 Filip Forsberg Posts a -11 rating
There’s no denying that Nashville forward Filip Forsberg is a solid NHL player. He proved it once again during the regular season with 33 goals and 31 assists for 64 points and was a +1. However, his game went south during the playoffs as the 21-year-old had a league-worst -11 rating. He also managed just two goals and two assists in the Predators’ 14 playoff games, even though he played two seconds shy of 20 minutes per game. Forsberg’s shooting percentage also dropped to 5.3% in the playoffs from 13.4% in the regular season. He was also miserable in his own zone, finishing the playoffs with a -11 rating.
17 Phil Kessel Leads Penguins with 22 Points
It’s not really shocking that Phil Kessel scored 10 goals and 12 assists to lead the Penguins in scoring and finish as fourth top-scorer in the playoffs. He’s been an elite player ever since entering the league. Kessel was undeservingly made the scapegoat in Toronto and run out of town by the know-it-all media and geniuses in Leafs Nation. He simply did what he always does, score goals and set up his teammates and was a serious candidate for the Conn Smythe. If you’re keeping score Leafs’ fans, Kessel has one Stanley Cup since 2006 and the Leafs have none since 1967. Good on him.
16 Reilly Smith Scores 1.33 Points Per Game
While Logan Couture of the Sharks led the scoring parade with 30 points and posted 1.25 points-per game, he came in second in the latter category to Florida’s Reilly Smith. The Panthers’ forward played in just six playoff contests, but scored at a rate of 1.33 points-per-game. Smith scored four goals and four assists in his half dozen outings. Smith scored 50 points in 82 regular-season games at a rate of .61 points per game. Patrick Kane led the regular season with 1.29 points-per-outing.
15 Joe Pavelski Scores 14 Playoff Goals
San Jose forward Joe Pavelski led all players with 14 goals in 24 games. He scored .58 goals per game which is a 48 goal pace in a regular 82-game season. The 31-year-old scored 38 times during the regular 2015-16 campaign. Pavelski also led the playoffs with four game-winning tallies after recording 11 of them during the regular season. Pavelski and the Sharks may have fallen short of the Cup, but his goal total is nothing to hang his head over as Pavelski was a key factor in the team's playoffs success.
14 Corey Perry, Jonathan Toews, and Jaromir Jagr Fail to Score a Goal
The Anaheim Ducks’ Corey Perry, Florida’s Jaromir Jagr, and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews have been regular goal getters over the past several seasons, but none of the three managed to put the biscuit in the basket during the playoffs. Perry managed just four assists in seven contests while Toews had six assists in his seven outings and Jagr posted just a pair of helpers. Perry had 34 during the regular season while Toews had 28 and Jagr 27. Needless to say, Anaheim, Florida, and Chicago were all eliminated in the first round.
13 Logan Couture Leads All Scorers with 30 Points
The Sharks’ Logan Couture racked up 30 points in these playoffs with 10 goals and 20 assists to lead all players and finished six ahead of teammate Brent Burns. The 27-year-old managed just 36 points in the regular season, but he did play only 52 games. He scored at a 1.25 points-per-game pace in the postseason and he’s the first player to reach at least 30 points in the playoffs since Daniel Briere achieved the feat in 2009/10.
12 Evgeny Kuznetsov's Scoring Drought
Evgeny Kuznetsov led the Washington Capitals in scoring this season with 20 goals and 57 assists for 77 points but went missing in action in the playoffs. The centre scored a lone goal in 12 postseason games and added just one assists for a grand total of two points. His shooting percentage plummeted to 2.6% from 10.4% during the regular season. Kuznetsov failed to come through when his team needed him the most.
11 Staal Brothers Combine for Zero Goals
Centre Eric Staal and defenceman Marc Staal of the New York Rangers combined for zero goals between them in the playoffs. Eric was acquired from Carolina on Feb. 28th with hopes of adding scoring and experience in the postseason. He failed to register a point in the playoffs though and went -7 while Marc managed a pair of assists and was -1. Marc was never a high-scoring defenceman to start with, but had 15 points in the regular season while Eric had 39 points, with just six of them coming in 20 games with the Rangers.
10 Drew Doughty Struggles at Both Ends of the Ice
Defenceman Drew Doughty has been nominated for the James Norris Trophy as the league’s best blueliner three times and deservedly so. He scored 14 goals and 37 assists for 51 points this season and was a +24. However, he struggled at both ends of the ice in the playoffs. He managed just one assist in five games even though he averaged 30:49 of ice time per outing, while he was also a -5. Doughty’s Kings were eliminated in five games by the Sharks in the first round.
9 Matt Martin Averages 6.27 Hits Per Game
New York Islanders forward Matt Martin is well known for his physical play and he lived up to his reputation in the playoffs. Martin led the league with an average of 6.27 hits per game and delivered 69 of them in 11 games. However, he also failed to register a point in the postseason. Alex Ovechkin ranked second with players who played at least 11 games with 4.9 hits per game. However, David Backes led the postseason in total hits with 93 at 4.7 per contest. Martin had the most hits in the regular season with 365 and also led in hits per game with 4.6
8 Roman Polak Goes Pointless in 24 Playoff Games
Defenceman Roman Polak of the Sharks played in all 24 of his team’s playoff encounters and averaged over 15 minutes of ice time a game. It wasn’t enough time for him to register a point though. Polak finished with no goals and no assists and was a -5. His teammate Nick Spaling didn’t fare much better either. The forward also played all 24 contests, but did manage to pick up a single assist.
7 Henrik Lundqvist Posts League-Worst GAA
New York Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t really have anything to prove as he’s been one of the NHL’s best between the pipes during his career. He may want to prove to himself that this year’s playoff performance was nothing more than bad luck though. Lundqvist went 1-3 and posted an .867 save percentage along with a playoff-worst 4.39 goals against average. He did suffer an eye injury in the postseason and was 35-21 in the regular season with a GAA of 2.48 and a .920 save percentage.
6 Kris Letang Involved in All Four Game-Winners in Final
Pittsburgh defenceman Kris Letang was involved in all four game-winning goals in the Final series as he earned assists on each one of them. Just three players in NHL history have managed to earn a point on four game-winners in a Final before. These were Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers back in 1987 as well as Jean Beliveau of Montreal in 1965 and Milt Schmidt of Boston in 1941.
5 Michal Neuvirth Records .981 Save Percentage
Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltender Michal Neuvirth played just three games in the playoffs, but still posted some incredible numbers. He went 2-1 with a .981 save percentage along with a goals-against average of 0.67. He also recorded a shutout. The Flyers may have been more successful if Neuvirth had started all of their games. He went 18-8 in the regular season with a 2.27 GAA, a .924 save percentage and three shutouts.
4 Marc-Edouard Vlasic Blocks 68 Shots
There are many coaches who emphasize shot-blocking as being a key part of today’s game and you’ll often see players combining for more saves in a game than their goaltender. San Jose defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic led the playoffs with 68 blocked shots in his 24 gamers for 2.83 blocks per game. When it came to blocks-per-game, Drew Doughty of the Kings had the most at 3.4, but played just five contests. Vlasic blocked 129 shots in the regular season for 1.9 per game. In fact, Vlasic blocked more shots than eight of the 28 goalies who appeared in this year’s playoffs while two others saved just one more than the defenceman.
3 Martin Jones Records Three Shutouts
San Jose goalie Martin Jones proved he’s a number-one goalie in the NHL after taking his team to the Stanley Cup Finals and going 14-10. He also posted a 2.16 goals-against average, a 9.23 save percentage and led the league with three shutouts. The 26-year-old has already won a Stanley Cup, as the backup to Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles in 2013-14. Jones was dealt to San Jose via Boston prior to the season and went 37-23 in the regular campaign, his first as a starter, with a 2.27 GAA and .918 save percentage. His playoff performance will give him a stranglehold on the starting job in San Jose.
2 Joe Thornton Led Playoffs in Both Giveaways and Takeaways
Veteran centre Joe Thornton had a great 2015-16 playoffs and played as physical a postseason as anybody. There was never a dull moment when Thornton was on the ice as he led the playoffs in takeaways at 22 as well as in giveaways at 36. He also chipped in with three goals and 18 assists for 21 points in 24 games. The 36-year-old Thornton led the Sharks with 69 takeaways in the regular season and was second to Brent Burns in giveaways with 98 while leading the team in scoring with 82 points in 82 games.
1 Matt Murray’s 15 Wins Ties NHL Record for a Rookie
Penguins’ 22-year-old goalie Matt Murray was given the ball and ran with it during the postseason by leading his team to the ultimate prize. Murray went 15-6 in 21 games while posting a .923 save percentage, a 2.08 goals-against average, and a shutout. The 15 wins ties an NHL playoff record for a rookie. The only other netminders to achieve the feat were Patrick Roy of Montreal in 1985-86, Ron Hextall of Philadelphia in 1986-87, and Cam Ward of Carolina in 2005-06. Murray was 9-2 in the regular season with a 2.00 GAA, a .930 save percentage, and one shutout.