1. Brayden Schenn, Philadelphia -- It was virtually a slap shot, Scott Hartnell's pass from the right half-boards through the middle if the Pittsburgh Penguins' zone. Even though Schenn was Hartnell's intended target, trying to redirect such a hard pass as that past an NHL goalie was akin to jabbing a running salmon with a spear. That tying third-period goal by the rookie Schenn -- he of 18 points in 54 regular-season games for Philly -- seemed to foretell Game 1 ultimate doom for the Pens, and it did. Schenn added two assists and also, along with Daniel Brière and Wayne Simmonds, was frequently matched up against Sidney Crosby's line and survived a shaky start.
2. Pekka Rinne, Nashville -- His early third-period save on Henrik Zetterberg was more like that of a desperate keeper in soccer. Diving with both arms outstretched was the only real option Rinne had left when Detroit's bearded Swede marksman had the puck alone on the left side, on the power play with the tying goal on his stick. In NBA terms, to venture to another sport for a useful metaphor, Rinne plays "long" at 6-foot-5. With all that size and Gumbi-flexibility to boot, Rinne is just a tough man to slip a rubber disc past. He stopped 35-of-37 shots. Detroit coach Mike Babcock engaged in some gamesmanship prior to Game 1, reportedly telling his goalie, Jimmy Howard, he'd have to "look at the guy across from him head-to-head and outplay him." Well, there's always Game 2.
3. Mike Richards, Los Angeles -- Now, Dean Lombardi can start to brag a little more. While the former Flyers captain had a reasonable season (18 goals, 44 points in 76 games), Lombardi took some heat during the campaign for giving up the aforementioned Schenn, along with Wayne Simmonds, for Richards' OK play and huge contract. But everyone knew Richards' ability to elevate his game for the playoffs was part of that trade, and Lombardi's faith was rewarded for one game at least in Vancouver Wednesday night. Richards was a beast all night, scoring a tying goal, assisting on Dustin Penner's late third-period game winner and hitting everything in sight (he was officially credited with four, but it sure seemed more than that). He clearly looked like the Kings captain in this one, even though Dustin Brown still wears the C. By the end of the game, it also sure seemed that Richards had gotten into the head of several Canucks, including pest supreme Alex Burrows. It appears there is going to be some good truculence in this series, to note one of former Canucks GM Brian Burke's favorite words.
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