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Playoffs: Who Thrives and Who Dives?

It's a Canadian Game


blog-0975652001370328712.jpgWe are now into the conference finals and so far we have seen some great playoff performances from players that have really stepped up their game for the post season when it means the most. Players like David Krejci, Nathan Horton, and Pascal Dupuis have elevated their game and are playing some of their best hockey..

The playoffs can be a showcase of what players can bring to the table when everything is on the line and players like the three above and many others have definitely showed that when their team needs great performances they can be counted on. However, in the same breathe there seem to be other players that perform outstanding in the regular season, that when their team needs them most, crumble and fall. For instance Vancouver fans are likely wondering where the Sedin twins disappeared to during their quarterfinal sweep to the San Jose Sharks. So with some players failing to produce at crucial times, the question seems to be: how valuable is a player if they play differently when a chance to hoist Lord Stanley is on the line.

The biggest example of struggled play in the post season in recent years must be Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury has been, for the lack of another word, terrible in his last 2 post-seasons. In fact this post season has lost his job as the Penguin's starting goalie to veteran Tomas Vokoun. This has come as quite a surprise to many as during the past two regular seasons he has put up impressive numbers and has been a large part of the Penguins success, but this play hasn't followed him into the post season.

Last playoffs Fleury had a 4.63 goals against average and an 0.834 save percentage allowing 26 goals in just 6 games. This came after he had a 2.36 GAA and 0.913 PCT in the regular season. Now, this year Fleury has a 3.51 GAA and an 0.883 PCT in the playoffs after recording a 2.39 GAA and 0.916 PCT during the regular season. In fact Fleury's save percentage has not been over the 0.900 mark since the 2008-09 season when he won the cup with the Penguins. So, has Fleury lost his playoff mojo?

Now on the other hand there have been some players who seem to thrive when the playoffs hit. In recent year one such player who has seemed to save it up for the playoffs is Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere. Though his Flyers failed to make the post season this year around, in the three years prior Briere has put up some of the biggest totals in the playoffs.

In the three years spanning from 2010-2012 Briere put up an impressive 52 points in 45 games, including 27 goals and 6 game winning goals. However, when it comes to the regular season in these same three years Briere tallied 170 in 222 games. These aren't terrible numbers, but they don't compare to his post season successes.

This off season Briere will become a free agent. This is a very interesting time for the two-time all-star as he is coming off a shortened season where he only recording 16 points in 36 games. So, will this affect him moving forward as he searches for a new contract? With Briere hitting the age of 36 the fear of not being signed could soon be a harsh reality for the star. However, is Briere still seen as a hot commodity because of what he can bring teams in the post season?

It is clear that some players thrive under the added pressure of the playoffs and others drop off, but how do you measure a player's talent and value? Is a player who puts up great numbers in during the regular season and struggles in the post season a more valuable asset than a player who struggles during the regular season put steps up their game in the playoffs?

Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman


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Enjoyed the read. Have to add Justin Williams as one of those playoff Clutch game 7 players.

It will be interesting to see if Fleury will be traded in the off season. Briere isn't a FA yet..... He still has another two years year under contract with the Flyers. However, he probably will be one if he is bought out in July.

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Oops I had someone tell me he was a free agent, but yea def makes you wonder if a buyout is imminent, especially after his work with the TSN panel as of the last few weeks. It sees to me it's always a gig that players, coaches, and GMs look into to prove that they still know the game well and can be assets.

On another note I saw a stat today that Patrick Kane has just 3 goals in 28 games since scoring that overtime cup winner against the Flyers in 2010.

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