The NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs are the best time on the sports calendar. And days in, we’ve already seen some eye-popping performances.
Postseason hockey, that glorious time of year where hockey fandom is accepted into the mainstream and you can actually find the games being broadcasts at bars and restaurants across North America.
If early results are any indication, the 2017-18 Stanley Cup playoffs are going to be very good to us. Only three days in, we’ve seen some eye-popping performances from established superstars and up-and-comers alike.
There are postseason vets such as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby up to their usual tricks, but there are also some first-timers in the mix this year, including new San Jose Shark Evander Kane.
To wit, let’s take a look at five players who have already wowed us so far in the NHL postseason.
5. Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins
Jake Guentzel may not have the honor of having scored three goals in a single game so far in these playoffs — that distinction belongs to his teammate, Sidney Crosby — but Guentzel was an instrumental part of Crosby’s natural hat trick.
Because of his three assists and one goal so far this postseason, Guentzel is actually the player with the most points in the standings so far. He’s plus-four so far these playoffs, and get this — he’s now put up 25 points in 26 postseason games in his career. That’s pretty special.
In fact, Guentzel’s goal and three apples marked a new career-high in playoff points in his career, with four. He led the league last year in the postseason with 13 goals (21pts).
Guentzel, Crosby, Evgeni Malkin — frankly, this team is terrifying. And the Penguins just may give us the best show of any team this NHL postseason.
4. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals
The Columbus Blue Jackets played a tight series opener against the Washington Capitals, triumphing over the Metro Division’s No. 1 seed with a 4-3 overtime decision.
Evgeny Kuznetsov did everything in his power to ensure that the Capitals didn’t let this one slip away with his two goals, but it was too little, too late, as anxious Capitals fans wonder if this is yet another snakebitten postseason for their team.
Kuznetsov was on the ice for 23:58, one of the highest time on ice marks of anyone who has scored a goal so far in these playoffs.
But, really, Washington could have been more efficient with him if it wanted to. After all, he scored his two goals 29 seconds apart:
The Caps may have dropped Game 1, but if Kuznetsov can keep this level of play going, they’ll have plenty more opportunities to even out this series.