Carrying The Load

Jaromir Jagr isn't the only star who has kept his team in the playoff picture. Here are five other leading men who have lifted their squads into the postseason and whose performances could make or break dreams of bringing home the Stanley Cup
April 23, 2006

Right wing, Senators

IF OTTAWA expectsto shake its reputation as a playoff disappointment--the Senators have lost inthe first round in five of their last eight appearances--Alfredsson will needto produce in the postseason. (He had only one goal and two assists in 2004.)His play of late has indicated that he might do just that. Alfredsson hadcareer highs of 41 goals and 57 assists at week's end.

Right wing, Flames

LOW-SCORINGCalgary (27th in the league with 2.63 goals a game) has the best goalie in theNHL in Miikka Kiprusoff, but he can't carry the team back to the finals byhimself. Iginla will have to provide offensive firepower. The league's top goalscorer in 2003-04, Iginla led Calgary with 34 goals through Sunday, 10 morethan the next Flame, center Daymond Langkow.

Sergei Zubov
Defenseman, Stars

PATIENT ANDlow-key, the three-time All-Star is Dallas's top offensive defenseman (71points at week's end). He also leads a stingy defense; the Stars have thelowest shots-against average (25.4) in the league. Given goaltender MartyTurco's erratic performance in past playoffs, the Stars will count on Zubov tocontrol the puck in the defensive zone during tight games.

Center, Hurricanes

AT 35, the16-year veteran plays an industrial-strength 24:19 per game, the most minutesof any NHL forward. The young team will lean heavily on Brind'Amour forleadership. Carolina's top scorer, Eric Staal (45 goals and 55 assists throughSunday), has no playoff experience, and right wing Justin Williams (31 goals,45 assists) has played in just 17 postseason games.

Center, Red Wings

WITH 40-YEAR-OLDSteve Yzerman in the twilight of his career, the burden falls on Datsyuk tospearhead Detroit's charge for the Stanley Cup. Datsyuk, 27, and left wingHenrik Zetterberg, 25, are the Red Wings' new guard, bringing youth and scoringability. It's test time for Datsyuk, Detroit's top point-getter (28 goals, 59assists at week's end), who has only 12 points in 37 playoff games.