Lost among the major storylines of this postseason (violence, suspensions and upsets, predominantly) is the fact several playoff rookies have broke onto the scene in style, performing like grizzled vets.
Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals
Key stats: 4-3, 2.00 GAA, .940 save percentage
After appearing in just seven games this season, the 22-year-old out-dueled Tim Thomas (you know, the reigning playoff MVP and Vezina winner) in a seven game stunner over the Bruins.
In doing so, Holtby joined Montreal’s Ken Dryden (1971) and Calgary’s Mike Vernon (1986) as the only rookie goalies ever to defeat the defending Cup champions in a playoff series.
Adam Henrique, C, New Jersey Devils
Key stats: 2G-1A-3PTS
Averaging over 16 minutes a game, the Calder Trophy nominee was a clutch performer for the Devils in Round 1. Henrique opened and closed the scoring in New Jersey’s series-clinching win over Florida, becoming the second rookie in NHL history to score an OT winner in Game 7.
The other? Montreal’s Claude Lemieux, in 1986.
Chris Kreider, LW, New York Rangers
Key stats: 1G-0A-1PT, 1 GWG
Kreider made history in Game 3, becoming the first player to win an NCAA title and make his NHL debut in the same year — in the playoffs — since Tony Hrkac did it in 1987 with the University of North Dakota and St. Louis Blues.
As New York’s opening-round series versus Ottawa progressed, so too did Kreider’s role. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 6, then received over 18 minutes of ice time in Game 7 — the only New York forwards that played more were Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Derek Stepan.
Brayden Schenn/Sean Couturier, C, Philadelphia Flyers
Key stats: (combined) 5G-5A-10PTS.
Schenn, 20, was a point-a-game player in the opening round against Pittsburgh (2G-4A-6PTS in six games.) Couturier scored a hat trick in Game 2, becoming the youngest player (19 years, 128 days) since Toronto Hall of Famer Ted Kennedy accomplished the feat in 1945.
Gabriel Bourque, LW, Nashville Predators
Key stats: 3G-1A-4PTS
The 21-year-old — who only made his NHL debut on Dec. 28 — was huge in the opening round, leading all Predators with three goals and finishing second in scoring (4PTS). Bourque also tied for the club lead and for third in the NHL overall with a +5 rating.