While current Toronto Maple Leaf players are booking tee times, several ex-Leafs* are making a big impression in the first round of the 2011 NHL Playoffs.
Top of the Class: Ian White is enjoying his first taste of postseason play and it’s unfortunate the Leafs were never able to make the playoffs with him on their roster. Despite missing one of the San Jose Sharks’ playoff games due to an upper-body injury, Ian White has notched 5 assists in just 4 games played (that places him 1st in assists and tied for 2nd in points among all defensemen). And he’s done all of this despite averaging just 17:09 of ice-time per game. Thanks to a few blasts from Pavel Kubina, the Tampa Bay Lightning are still alive in their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kubina has 2 G and 1 A in 5 postseason games. Kubina’s 2 goals are already a career postseason high for him. Hal Gill‘s outstanding postseason play has not shown up on the gamesheet but he’s been a big reason why the Montreal Canadiens jumped out to an early 2-0 series lead. He’s been able to help shut down the likes of Milan Lucic and co. and has a +1 rating and he’s been averaging 17:03 of ice-time per game!
Honorable Mention: Francois Beauchemin‘s 2 G and 1 A were not enough to help the Anaheim Ducks get past the Nashville Predators. Bryan McCabe spent most of the post-season in the penalty box with 14 PIM but he still managed to notch 2 assists in the Rangers’ 5-game series loss to the Washington Capitals. The jury is still out on Tomas Kaberle‘s playoff performance – he’s recorded 2 assists and averaged 20:13 of ice-time per game but he’s been victimized on more than one Montreal goal.
Top of the Class: Kyle Wellwood was dismissed by both the Maple Leafs and the Canucks but I think he’s found a home in San Jose. He’s stepped up his game in a big way with 3 assists in the first round so far and his +4 rating leads the team. He’s among several ex-Leafs who are making the most of limited ice-time (14:03 per game). The Philadelphia Flyers will fight for their playoff lives tomorrow night in Game 7 against Buffalo and they’ll need Kris Versteeg to continue his stellar play. Versteeg has 4 assists and a whopping +5 rating in the postseason. Maybe Brian Burke was a bit hasty to discard the ex-Stanley Cup champion? Veteran Jason Blake‘s speed and offensive contributions (1 G, 3 A, +1 rating, 13:45/game) were not enough for Anaheim to get past Nashville. Instead, with the help of ex-Leaf Steve Sullivan‘s leadership, the Nashville Predators will take part in the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Sullivan has 2 G and 1 A while averaging just 8:35 of ice-time! Dominic Moore has been heavily relied upon by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s a workhorse and a solid two-way player who has been integral to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense against the Pittsburgh attack. He’s chipped in with 1 G and 1 A and is averaging the most ice-time among all ex-Leaf forwards at 19:37. He’s got to do a better job of staying out of the penalty box with 14 PIM so far.
Honorable Mention: Alexei Ponikarovsky has helped the Los Angeles Kings stay alive against the Sharks with 1 G and a +1 rating. Viktor Stalberg has chipped in with 1 G for Chicago as the Blackhawks attempt to become the 4th team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit.
In the Doghouse: Jamal Mayers is really the only ex-Leaf player who has been a big disappointment. Not that much can be expected from a 4th line player but he’s actually had a negative impact on the team’s performance. He’s averaging just 5:26 of ice-time per game with San Jose but he has a -3 rating and 12 PIM.
*Note: This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of each and every ex-Maple Leaf player in the postseason but rather a summary of the more well-known former Toronto players.
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