1. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers -- "When the best player in the world comes up to you and tells you, 'I don't know who you're planning on starting tonight, but I want that first shift,' that says everything you need to know about Claude Giroux right there."
Best player in the world? Philly coach Peter Laviolette might be a little enthusiastic in his appraisal of his 24-year-old star, but not by much. Giroux was a force in the series, registering a club-record 14 points over the six games. More important, he personally extinguished any hopes the Penguins had of continuing their unlikely comeback on Sunday with the best opening shift of these playoffs. Over the course of just 32 seconds, Giroux plowed over Sidney Crosby, sending his entire team a clear message -- this is how it's gonna be! --then buried a soul-crushing shot behind Marc-Andre Fleury, proving that Pittsburgh's little two-game uprising had gone far enough.
Epic? You bet. So let's just call him the best player in the world who is still playing into the second round.
That's all that matters to Giroux.
2. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings -- He was outstanding over the course of Game 5, providing a calming influence that assured his teammates, "I got this" as they buckled under waves of pressure from the hometown Canucks.
Of course, that's the way it was for much of the series. Quick was always there. So just when it seemed like things might be getting out of hand, it felt kind of obvious that he would come up with the save of the series, robbing Daniel Sedin on a clear break late in the second period that held the score at 1-0.
After that, it was a matter of time before his teammates got him the offense he needed to end the reign of the Presidents' Trophy-winners although he had to make a couple of tough stops in overtime to hold the fort until Jarret Stoll could seal the deal and send the Kings on to a second round meeting with the St. Louis Blues.
3. Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins -- Goaltender Tim Thomas called it "a coming of age goal." For Seguin, the 20-year-old who led the Bruins in scoring during the season but had been held scoreless through six games, it was a goal that was ages in coming.
Fortunately for the Bruins, it arrived at a most opportune time, 3:17 into OT, and ensured that the defending champs would return home for the decisive Game 7 in their first round series with Washington.
Seguin, who had just earned his first point of the playoffs with an assist on Andrew Ference's goal midway through the third, was struggling with the pressure of not finishing his chances earlier in the series. "I saw the goalie challenging, so I just tried to make a quick move and got lucky it went in," he told The Boston Globe. "It's just really nice to get that feeling of finding the back of the net."