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Goal hunting: six struggling NHLers looking to turn around their playoffs

Easter is this weekend, and people around the world will spend it with family and friends. But for some players, they'll be using it as a chance to keep their season alive by coming up big on the scoresheet. Let's look at a few players who need to find their groove, and fast.

If you read my piece on Thursday, you'd know I pointed out Teuvo Teravainen's offensive struggles during the playoffs. With the Carolina Hurricanes hoping to tie the series up at two games apiece, Teravainen finally scored his first goal of the playoffs (with Brooks Orpik on the ice, a matchup I suggested was going to be a big one for Teravainen), giving the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

For a player coming off a career-high in points with 76, watching Teravainen struggle was surprising. Even with Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland out with injuries, the team was playing well but the big stars were not producing.

With two playoff series' already completed, we're nearing the end of what has been an absolutely chaotic first round. Two different matchups can see a winner crowned by Saturday night: the Colorado Avalanche can eliminate the top seed in the west, the Calgary Flames, on Friday, and the St. Louis Blues can keep its storybook run alive with a win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. In just a few days, half of the teams still remaining in the playoffs will be left wondering what it failed to capitalize on before a full summer of regret.

The playoffs are no stranger to having unsung heroes steal the spotlight, but when your big stars don't come to play, you're not going to have success. In the spirit of Easter and the exciting search for treats, let's look at a half dozen players who had big regular seasons but haven't been rewarded with a big playoff run yet.

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks – 2 points

While most of the Norris Trophy talk surrounded Mark Giordano this season, it's understandable if you forgot that Burns put up the best offensive numbers of his career with 83 points, beating his previous high of 76 form his Norris campaign in 2016-17. He started the playoffs off well, too, tallying a goal and two points in Game 1 to give the Sharks an early series lead, but he has yet to add to his point total in four games since. Burns is an important two-way contributor for the Sharks, having led San Jose in scoring the past three seasons, and you can't forget about his 2016 playoff performance when he had a point-per-game in 24 post-season contests to lead all defensemen. That's why his relative disappearance on the ice is surprising, seeing as he typically is the one generating chances from the point. He has just one shot over his past two games, and with the Sharks on the brink, he needs to generate more opportunities.

Timo Meier, San Jose Sharks - 2 points

Meier quietly had the best season of his NHL career, nearly doubling his 36-point total from 2017-18 to finish fourth in team scoring with 30 goals and 66 points. But through five playoff games, Meier, a speedy winger with 30-goal potential, has just a goal and an assist as the Sharks have struggled against the high-flying Vegas Golden Knights. The Sharks know what Meier is capable of, and it's definitely more than what he has produced: his expected goals per 60 in the playoffs is 0.89, good for fourth on the Sharks behind Evander Kane, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl and overall 46th in the entire league. Meier struggled against Vegas in last year's playoffs, recording just two points in six games in a smaller role than he has this year. Scoring depth has been one of San Jose's issues in this year's run, and Meier hasn't had much to cheer about yet after five contests.

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames – 1 point

A big reason why the Flames were such a powerhouse team was because of Gaudreau's breakthrough season, recording 36 goals and 99 points. But through four contests, Gaudreau has been held to just one assist and 12 shots, and with the Flames on the brink of elimination tonight against Colorado, now is the time for him to rekindle the magic that made him one of the best forwards in the league. Gaudreau is far from the only issue in Calgary, considering Colorado has taken 108 shots over the past two games, but the Flames will need its top left wing to step it up if the team wants to avoid becoming the second No. 1 seed to take an early trip to the golf course this spring.

Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators – 1 point

Nashville's offensive troubles have been well documented, and with just one goal in four games, Forsberg hasn't been a major contributor on the scoresheet. It's been an unusually quiet series for Forsberg, who posted 16 points in the post-season the past two years. Forsberg did score a highlight-reel goal against the Dallas Stars in Game 3, giving Nashville the 2-0 lead in an eventual 3-1 victory, but that's it. He isn't the only player who needs to find the scoresheet on the Preds: his linemates, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson, are still without a goal. Surprisingly, even with the lack of production from its top line, Nashville is tied 2-2 with Dallas heading into Game 5 Saturday.

Viktor Arvidsson, Nashville Predators – 0 points

Speaking of Arvidsson, he's just one of just two forwards on Nashville to play in all four games and not record a point. Arvidsson, of course, broke the single-season record for goals by a Predator with 34 in just 58 games, so being held pointless so far is a shocker. A pure goal-scorer with a quick release on his wrist shot, Arvidsson had five goals in 13 games for Nashville in the playoffs last year, including a two-goal performance to help force Game 7 against Winnipeg. The Preds have never lost in any of the eight games where Arvidsson has scored in the post-season.

Kaspari Kapanen, Toronto Maple Leafs – 0 points

Given how well Kapanen has played during stretches of the first round, it's surprising he's one of just three skaters and one of two forwards to fail to record a point through four games. The energetic winger is coming off season in which he had a career-high 20 goals and 44 points, but he had struggled to score goals in the final weeks of the season, netting just five in 29 games dating back to Feb. 1. While Toronto, which heads into Friday's Game 5 tied 2-2 with Boston, has been able to rely on Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner for scoring, now would be an ideal time for Kapanen to rediscover his scoring touch.

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