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Top First Round NHL Playoff Mentions: Duncan Keith, Carey Price, Tyler Johnson and Rick Nash

April 30, 2015 – Here’s a look at the most notable performances of players in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, from good – to lackluster.

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks (D) –Keith is in playoff MVP candidate mode, as he was mythical on the blue line this past series against the Nashville Predators where the Hawks won four games to two. He averaged over 32 minutes per game – meaning: he was on every other shift, every penalty kill, every power play and was often double shifted. To say he’s making the most of his ice time would be an understatement, as he has two huge game-winning-goals, is second in playoff scoring with five points (two goals, five assists), all while keeping the puck out of his own net and maintaining a terrific +3 rating. This guy is scary good.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (G) – The future Vezina and likely Hart Trophy winner at year’s end continued his absolute brilliant play into this year’s post season, having turned away 186 of 198 shots (12 goals allowed) in a six game series against the Ottawa Senators.

Price faces tough competition amongst the remaining teams in the East, and will have to play well this series as the Habs face off against Tampa Bay this round.

Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning (F) – The 5’9, 183lb undrafted 24-year-old is having the season of his life, establishing himself as a premiere player in the National Hockey League. With 72 points in 77 games during the regular season (29 goals, 43 assists), Johnson has showed no sign of slowing down thus far into the post season. Johnson was a critical piece to the puzzle Tampa’s victory over the Detroit Redwings in the first series, as his six goals (two of which where game winners) leads the NHL in post season goals, and his seven points are tied for first place amongst post season scoring.

Tampa has a tough road ahead of them this upcoming series against the Canadiens, and Johnson will have to be persistent in his efforts if Tampa is to have any chance of moving to the Eastern Conference finals.

Rick Nash, New York Rangers (F) – Lackluster. Nash’s four points (one goal, three assists) in five games this post season is worrisome to all Blue Shirt fans after his playoff performance last year, where he had 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in a 25 game playoff run in which the Rangers ended up losing to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup finals.

In all likelihood, the Rangers could slip by every East coast team and into the Stanley Cup finals without Nash playing great hockey like last year, but they will need him to step up this year and not fade in big games if they’re to win in a grand showdown against a team like the Chicago Blackhawks or Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup finals.

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