LCS Hockey: Born Again
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September 17, 2014
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All Overlooked Team




Todd White
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

This is shaping up to be one of the best finishes in recent memory. The playoff races in both conferences are real wizard. But before we get caught up in all the postseason excitement, letís take a moment to recognize some of the seasonís more unheralded individual performances.

Sure, guys like Zach Parise, Jeff Carter, and Michael Cammalleri deserve more mainstream praise than theyíve been getting, but all three were expected to be key contributors to their respective clubs. Iíd rather focus on some completely overlooked guys whoíve had strong seasons. Why? Because I can.

So here are the overlooked All-StarsÖ

CENTER

Todd White, Atlanta Thrashers: Atlanta still has a team? Who knew? White has quietly posted career-highs with 43 assists and 62 points, topping the 60 points he had in 2002-03 with Ottawa. And that Sens team was a touch better than the Thrashers.

It canít be easy playing hockey in Atlanta, yet the 33-year-old center, who earned $2.3 million this season, has managed more points than such marquee pivots as Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews, Jason Spezza, Olli Jokinen, Scott Gomez, and Chris Drury.


LEFT WING

Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars: The 23-year-old Swede has exploded onto the scene this year, ringing up 32 goals and 55 points in 69 games. Despite injuries to Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, and Brad Richards, Eriksson kept chugging right along, emerging as the Starsí lone consistent scoring threat.

If Dallas sneaks into the playoffs, Eriksson deserves some fifth-place MVP votes. Where would the Stars be without this kid?


RIGHT WING

Tuomo Ruutu, Carolina Hurricanes: In his rookie year of 2003-04, Ruutu scored 23 goals and 44 points for the Blackhawks and appeared set for superstardom. He had speed, real swank hands, and hit like Colt 45. Remember the beauty he scored against Canada in the 2004 World Cup Finals? Aw, that was great, that was fun.

Then came the pain. Knee, back, and ankle injuries nearly forced Ruutu into retirement. Now heís finally starting to look like his old self, ranking third on the Canes in goals (21) and points (46). He also ranks 11th in the NHL with 197 hits. Lord help me, I love the Tuomo Ruutu.



Mark Streit
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

DEFENSE

Mark Streit, New York Islanders: Garth Snow took plenty of grief for giving Streit, who couldnít manage a regular shift on defense with the Habs, a five-year, $20.5-million deal to anchor the Islandersí blue line. But Streit has done the impossible: heís made Garth Snow look like a genius. Move over, Anne Sullivan.

Streit leads the Islanders in scoring with 52 points, and thatís 17 more than his nearest teammate. In fact, Streitís 15 goals are only one less than Kyle Okposo for the team lead. That means Streit has a legit chance to lead his club in goals, assists, and points. Bobby Orr never even did that.

Kyle Quincey, Los Angeles Kings: This oneís for my boy Matt Diggs. He said Quincey was going to be a star for the Royalty, and the former Red Wing has lived up to the hype, recording 34 assists in his first year in L.A. Only seven NHL defensemen have had more helpers. Fear Kyle Quincey!


GOALTENDER

Dwayne Roloson, Edmonton Oilers: Rookies Steve Mason and Pekka Rinne have come out of nowhere to save their teams, but how about some love for old man Roloson?

When the season started, the Oilers did everything they could to distance themselves from the 39-year-old puckstopper, even carrying three goalies the first few months. But Roloson has been Edmontonís saving grace, starting 50 games to keep the Bubbling Crude in playoff contention.

Roloson has a .914 save percentage. Mathieu Garon and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers combined to provide the Oil with a .893 save percentage. Without Roloson, the Oil would have run dry long ago.





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