Swing Down Sweet Chariot
Every Playoff Team Needs Unsung Heroes
Every team has a handful of impact players. Then, there are the guys that don’t receive as much notoriety but are putting on masterful performances in a supplementary role. Here are the unsung heroes from every remaining playoff team, starting with:
Montreal Canadiens: Ben Chariot
For a team with Shea Weber and Jeff Petry headlining their backend, a guy like Ben Chariot doesn’t get enough credit. This is especially true during the playoff season where his stat line is unimpressive on paper. In 12 games, Chariot has 0 points but that’s not where his strength lies. Chariot has been consistently matched up all year long, and in the playoffs, against the opposition’s top line. Not only has he held his own. He’s excelled. In the first round, Chariot and his D partner Shea Weber went head-to-head against Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. The pair kept them silent throughout the entire series. They repeated their performance in the second round against the Jets, keeping Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor in what was a 4-game sweep. Chariot has been effective in the playoffs thanks to his ability to put his body on the line. Combined, the number of hits he has absorbed and shots he has blocked this playoff season is currently at 75 and counting. For the uninitiated, blocking shots and making hits gets the boys going.
New York Islanders: Scott Mayfield
Another player that is known for paying the price to make a play is the Islanders’ Scott Mayfield. A criminally underrated defender, Mayfield’s game has really taken a big step forward during these playoffs. While it’s usually teammate Adam Pelech’s overall game that gets noticed on Long Island, Mayfield is a player that plugs into his role and does his job of defending extremely well. During this playoff season, much like Ben Chariot, Mayfield has seen ample time squaring off against the opposition’s most offensive lines. In a fun, back-and-forth second round against the Bruins, Mayfield was glued to the Bruins’ secondary scoring line of Hall, Krejci, and Smith. He held them to just four even-strength points. Mayfield has proven to be a capable and wildly effective defender in all situations he’s put in and is not afraid to sacrifice his body in the name of preventing goals. Mayfield’s 18 blocked shots versus the Bruins were second-most in that series. He is looking to continue this performance in the Islanders’ current round against the Lightning.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Ross Colton
Speaking of the Lightning, there might not be a team more polarizing than the Bolts. With accusations of circumventing the NHL salary cap and playing with a $100-million roster in the playoffs, the Lightning are backing it up with clinical performances against the Panthers in round one and the Hurricanes in round two. While the usual suspects in Tampa are lighting up the scoresheet, they have also greatly benefited in the scoring department from some unusual suspects. Ross Colton is a name no one would’ve pegged to make an impact offensively in the playoffs. After all, that’s simply not his game as he is more prone to hard forechecking and grinding down low. But, with three goals and four points in 11 games, it’s safe to say the Lightning are getting some timely production from an otherwise bottom-6 forward whose sole role is to provide some energy and grit to the lineup.
Vegas Golden Knights: Nick Holden
You could arguably go up and down the Golden Knights roster and find multiple unsung heroes because that is the team identity of this roster. The Golden Knights make the absolute most with what they have and it has largely worked out really well for them. This playoff season, there has been no greater overachiever than defenseman, Nick Holden. In 11 games, Holden has produced two goals and seven points. What makes that stat line even more impressive is that Holden has produced these numbers despite playing less than 18 minutes per game while seeing no time on the powerplay. The Golden Knights are stacked on the blueline with Theodore, Pietrangelo, and Martinez all playing ahead of Holden but if he continues to keep up this torrid offensive pace while maintaining a solid and steady presence on defense, these Golden Knights will be incredibly tough to contain the rest of these playoffs.
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