The five players set to make the biggest impact on their team's postseason performance include a goalie, a diminutive playoff vet and a skyscraping blueliner
He's much improved technically, particularly on his angles, and no longer has to rely solely on his quickness. With 62 career postseason starts, he'll be the most experienced starting goalie this spring.
Strong on the draw with superb on-ice vision, he also works as hard on defense as he does setting up sniper Alex Ovechkin. After a slow start Backstrom is peaking at the right time.
With all of the depth up front, Giroux can get overlooked when it comes to matchups. The biggest mistake an opponent could make would be to underestimate the 23-year-old winger.
Martin St. Louis
Tampa Bay Lightning
The 5'8" 12th-year winger is the offensive and defensive heartbeat of the Lightning. He's also a proven performer—St. Louis led Tampa Bay with 15 assists during its run to the Cup in 2004.
Granted, it's not too difficult for a 6'9", 255-pound defenseman to be a visible presence in the playoffs, but there is more to the game of the Bruins' 34-year-old captain than towering mismatches. In his 13th NHL season Chara is far and away the biggest, baddest, meanest blueliner in the league. And he has far more talent and skill than most people give him credit for.
RICHARD WOLOWICZ/GETTY IMAGES (FLEURY)
GREG FIUME/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (BACKSTROM)
LOU CAPOZZOLA (GIROUX)
SCOTT AUDETTE/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (ST. LOUIS)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (CHARA)