The NHL has a fine postseason tradition in which kids come out of nowhere to make names for themselves at the most important time of the year. Some achieve lasting fame (see: Ken Dryden), others flame out (where have you gone Steve Penney?). but they're fascinating to watch. When injuries ravaged Boston's blueline corps, Krug and fellow rookies Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski more than filled in for the sidelined veterans. The swift-skating, puckmoving Krug made the biggest splash after his recall from AHL Providence on May 14 by becoming the first player in NHL history to score four goals in his first five playoff games. His play was instrumental in the Bruins' elimination of the New York Rangers in five second-round games. Here are some other notable rookies who had a major postseason impact.
2 of 15Robert Beck/SI
The Devils' 2008 third-round pick wasn't in the Calder Trophy discussion at the start of the season, but he was a finalist for the award by the time the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs began. The 22-year-old center then became the first rookie to score three game-winning goals in one postseason since Colorado's Chris Drury (4) and Milan Hejduk (3) in 1999. Henrique also tied the NHL rookie record of two OT tallies shared by Jacques Lemaire (1968) and Claude Lemieux (1986), one of them eliminating the rival New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final. In the Cup final, he staved off the Devils' elimination in Game 4 with a clutch late-third period goal.
3 of 15Elise Amendola/AP
Boston's third-round pick in 2006 established a reputation as a productive agitator during the Bruins' run to the Stanley Cup Final. The 23-year-old rookie, who scored 21 goals and 41 points during the regular season, produced a team record 11 tallies and 19 points in the playoffs, including five in the Cup final vs. Vancouver. He also gained a measure of notoriety by brazenly punching Daniel Sedin of the Canucks in the head four times during Game 6 of the feisty, hotly contested series for the silverware.
4 of 15Robert Beck/SI
Stepping into the starting role during the postseason, with only 42 games of NHL experience, the 26-year-old Finnish netminder (whose age made him technically ineligible for the Calder Trophy) helped Chicago end its 49-year Cup drought. Steady and dependable (he sparkled with a 44-save 2-1 win over the Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final), Niemi went 22-16-6 with a 2.63 goals-against average, a .910 saves percentage and two shutouts during the Blackhawks' championship run. A salary cap squeeze forced Chicago to part with several players after the season, and after Niemi was awarded a $2.75 million salary by an arbitrator, the Blackhawks decided to let him sign a one-year $2 million deal with San Jose in September2010.
5 of 15Lou Capozzola/SI
The 21-year old with six games of NHL experience became the Caps' No. 1 goalie in Game 2 of their 2009 first-round series against the New York Rangers. Aggressive and athletic, he backstopped a seven-game comeback win. The Russian netminder finished that postseason 7-6 with a 2.53 goals-against average and .918 saves percentage, but was unable to parlay that promise into a steady job as Washington's starter.
6 of 15David E. Klutho/SI
After a respectable 2005-06 regular season (14-8-2, 3.68 GAA), Ward replaced struggling starter Martin Gerber in Game 2 of the first round against Montreal and went on to backstop Carolina to the Stanley Cup. The 22-year-old showed uncommon calm in big situations -- winning Game 7s in the Eastern Conference and Cup finals -- and taking the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, with 15 wins and two shutouts. One of the shutouts was the first by a rookie in the Cup final since Patrick Roy in 1986.
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The speedy, hardnosed, 19-year-old center played for Wayne Gretzky in Junior A and led Team USA in scoring at the 1989 world junior championships before joining Chicago for the final 20 regular season games. He was a plus-4 in 10 playoff games that year, and after taking a stick to the mouth, the broken-toothed Roenick scored the goal against St. Louis that sent the 'Hawks to the Cup semifinals against Calgary. Still a rookie the next season, he led Chicago with 11 playoff goals as the 'Hawks again reached the conference final.
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A 22-year old rookie with an unusually combative, aggressive, physical style and fondness for shooting the puck, Hextall won 37 regular season games in 1986-87 and then became the fourth player, and third goalie, from the losing team in the Cup final to win the Conn Smythe. He posted a 15-11, 2.77 GAA postseason slate while battling Wayne Gretzky's Oilers through seven Cup final games.
9 of 15Tony Triolo/SI, AP
The cocky master of the butterfly style began working on his Hall of Fame resume in 1985-86 by backstopping Montreal to the Stanley Cup. At 20, Roy was the youngest player to win the Conn Smythe, tying the NHL playoff mark of 15 wins and posting a minuscule 1.92 GAA in 20 games.
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A notorious instigator, pest and pot-stirrer, Lemieux established his reputation for elevating his game in the postseason as a feisty 20-year-old right wing in 1986. He scored 10 goals in 20 playoff games as Montreal won the Stanley Cup. Four of his 10 tallies were game-winners, and Lemieux also embellished his legend by famously biting the finger of Calgary forward Jim Peplinski in the Cup final.
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Yet another Habs goalie who made a sudden splash, Penney played in only four regular season games after his call-up from the AHL in 1984, and lost all four. But when starter Rick Wamsley was injured, Penney became the surprise playoff starter. He was spectacular in a first-round sweep of Boston and six-game triumph over rival Quebec. The Habs fell in the third round to the defending Cup champion New York Islanders, but Penney led all playoff goalies with three shutouts and a 2.20 GAA.
12 of 15Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images
Patrick Flatley and Pat LaFontaine
The two Pats joined the Isles' dynasty late in its Drive For Five and gave the battered team a boost of grit and energy for the 1984 playoffs. Flatley, 20, was a hard-working right wing with a nose for the net, an appetite for contact and some scoring touch. Elegant center LaFontaine, 19, was the Isles' first draft pick (third overall) in 1983. Flatley scored nine goals and 15 points in 21 playoff games while LaFontaine added nine points as the Isles reached the Cup final only to fall to Gretzky's rising Oiler dynasty.
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The hard-charging, flamboyant right wing was called up to Minnesota in February of the 1980-81 season and scored 18 goals and 30 points in 32 games. In the playoffs, the 21-year-old Ciccarelli set the NHL rookie records for postseason goals (14) and points (21) in 19 games as the North Stars barged past Boston, Buffalo and Calgary to reach the Stanley Cup Final, where they fell to the Islanders in five.
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A versatile, hard-working left wing, the 20-year-old Maloney led all playoff scorers in 1979 with 13 assists and scored a then-rookie record 20 points in 18 postseason games as the Rangers upset the favored Islanders to reach the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately for the Rangers, they fell to defending three-time Cup champion Montreal in five games.
15 of 15Denis Brodeur/NHLI/Getty Images
The out-of-nowhere legend against which all are measured, Dryden, 23, spent the 1970-71 season in the AHL before a late call up to Montreal. He played in only six games before being tabbed to start in the playoffs. In the first round, the future Hall of Famer stopped the defending champion Bobby Orr-Phil Esposito Bruins in seven games, and the Habs went on to win the Stanley Cup. Dryden, who had a 12-8 record and GAA of 3.00, took home the Conn Smythe. Who would you add to the list. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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