Alexander Radulov seems to have a distinct love for playing springtime hockey, and there's more to it than a cluttered trophy case, though he has won the KHL's Gagarin Cup, the Memorial Cup and two World Championships.
Consider that he led the KHL in playoff points on two separate occasions. His whopping 55 points during the 2006 QMJHL playoffs can't be ignored. And Radulov has thrived in the NHL post-season. In 33 career playoff contests, Radulov has 13 goals and 28 points, including seven with the Stars this month. He had points in all but one game against the Nashville Predators in the opening round and scored in Monday's Game 3 against St. Louis, a contest the Stars eventually dropped to the Blues. Radulov's 0.84 points-per-game average in the playoffs would put him 24th among active NHLers and just outside the top five among players still in the playoffs.
Despite Radulov's impressive numbers, though, there are several players whose post-season performances, past and present, have overshadowed the Stars scorer. With no Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Alex Ovechkin, here's a look at five stars who've bordered on unstoppable in the post-season:
Nathan Mackinnon, Colorado Avalanche
MacKinnon has had himself quite the post-season, recording eight points in five games against the Calgary Flames before kicking off the second round with three points in two games. MacKinnon's playoff history is brief – he's playing in the second round for the first time in his six-year career – but he has played some of the best hockey of his career when the games matter most. MacKinnon's finished with 10 points in a seven-game series against the Minnesota Wild during his first trip to the playoffs, and he followed that with six points in six games against the Predators last season. The Avs have their hands full with San Jose, but MacKinnon has proven he can be a game-changer.
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
Just imagine the Boston Bruins without Pastrnak last season. There's no way they would have gotten past the Toronto Maple Leafs without his 13 points. And while he didn't look like his usual self against the Leafs in the first round this season and has just one goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets so far, he's bound to break out, right? His 34 shots tie him for fifth-most in the post-season and after recording 81 points in 66 games (a career high, despite injuries) he's due for a big game. His seven points in nine games aren't bad, but five of those points came in a three-game span against Toronto. The Bruins need him to get going, though, because he might not stop scoring once he breaks out of this funk.
Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets
Has Panarin's nine points in six playoff games established him as the top pending unrestricted free agent? Very much so, especially on the heels of his career-high 87-point regular season. Though he's never missed the playoffs in his career, this is the first time Panarin has played beyond the first round. Panarin has 24 points in 23 career playoff games, making him one of the most dangerous post-season performers, and he's shown that with four points in two games against Boston in the second-round. That was highlighted by a three-point night in Game 2, which included two second-period goals and the primary assist on Matt Duchene's double-overtime winner.
Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
Nobody could stop Couture during the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. He led the league with 20 assists and 30 points as the Sharks fell just short of the franchise's first Stanley Cup. And performances like that have been par for the course for Couture, who has at least 10 points in four of the five seasons in which he's seen second-round action and leads San Jose in playoff goals (40, tied with Joe Pavelski) and points (90) since becoming a full-time NHLer in 2010. If you subtract his first playoff appearance in 2010 when he had just four goals in 15 games further down the team's lineup, Couture's point-per-game average sits at an impressive 0.96, and his 86 points are 19 more than the Sharks next-best scorer. His 86 playoff points also make him the highest-scoring player without a Stanley Cup victory since 2010. Only Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have recorded more points, and Couture is tied with Ovechkin for third.
Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks
For a guy who supposedly hasn't played like his old self, it sure is funny to see Karlsson, who has 10 assists in nine games, on pace for his best single-playoff points-per-game output. Before joining the Sharks, Karlsson represented the Ottawa Senators in the post-season five times, which included an 18-point performance during Ottawa's improbable playoff run in 2017. Even though Brent Burns holds the distinction as the team's top offensive defenseman – it's still incredible that two of the top-scoring blueliners of this generation are on the same team – Karlsson's career post-season numbers are still among the best.
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