A look into some of the hottest NHL players so far these playoffs:
CM – Tampa Bay Lightning
Quickly redirecting a pass from teammate Victor Hedman, Johnson gave the Tampa Bay home crowd a 2–1 victory in Game 3, putting the Lightning in a perfect position to sweep the Montreal Canadiens. The magic of that goal? It happened with only 1.1 seconds left in the game. Johnson came up clutch yet again. The young player, who originally went undrafted and was told he was too small to play in the NHL, now leads all playoff participants in game-winning goals with three. Steven Stamkos may be quiet these playoffs, with only one goal throughout two series so far, but Johnson is more than making up for it. The 24-year-old, 5’8” Johnson is currently leading the NHL with eight playoff goals.
RW – Chicago Blackhawks
Of course. How could he not make it onto this list? Ten weeks ago, news broke that Kane was due to be out for 12 weeks. Five weeks ago, Kane came back anyway. Though his return was earlier than expected, he has netted 11 points so far through the playoffs, with six goals and five assists. Kane has scored four goals going into Thursday’s play in the Blackhawks’ series against the Minnesota Wild, as many as the Wild have in total in the three games, all of which were Chicago victories.
RW – Anaheim Ducks
Not only are the Anaheim Ducks dominating, but Corey Perry is leading the NHL playoffs with 14 points as of Thursday morning. It didn’t take long for Perry to start his hot run; he scored four points in the very first game of the Ducks’ postseason, a win over the now-fallen Winnipeg Jets. After Anaheim breezed through Winnipeg, Corey Perry put up four points again, this time in the first game of the Ducks’ second round, a win against the Calgary Flames. Talk about a man who knows how to open a series—Mr. Game One now has six goals and eight assists, leading the Ducks to their relentless 6–1 run so far in these playoffs.
G – Washington Capitals
Braden Holtby’s unbelievable play is leaving the President’s Trophy-winning New York Rangers confused, frustrated, and down 3–1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Rangers have been dominating play but just can’t seem to buy one against Washington goaltender Holtby. Holtby came up huge in Game 4, stopping a penalty shot against Carl Hagelin in the third period to allow his Washington Capitals to finish the game up 2–1. Holtby leads all active playoff goaltenders with a superb 1.48 goals against average and a .95 save percentage. Thanks to him, the Capitals are just one classic Alexander Ovechkin performance or another stellar Holtby game away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.