The most unlikely playoff performances in NHL history
Posted: Thursday May 25, 2006 1:57PM; Updated: Thursday May 25, 2006 4:28PM
Uwe Krupp came out of the woodwork in 1996 to score 16 playoff points, including a triple-OT Cup-winning goal.
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There are a couple of other surprises in goal this spring, but Cam Ward's 3.68 mark placed him 46th among the 47 goalies who qualified for goals-against leadership in the regular season. His save percentage of .882 ranked 43rd. Those are not the numbers of a goalie, a rookie with no playoff experience, who was about to shine. That's why Ward's efforts this spring are so surprising.
Through the years, a number of unsuspecting players have garnered postseason headlines for their timely accomplishments. While Ken Dryden in 1971 and Claude Lemieux in 1986 came out of nowhere, it was a sign of things to come -- they continued to flourish. Not so with the players in the list below, though the jury is out on Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The others went most or all of their careers without any fanfare save for a surprisingly productive postseason.
The Hurricanes and their fans hope that Ward's play is a sign of things to come and that he is not a flash in the pan, like Montreal's Steve Penney,who disappeared not long after his great playoff run in 1984.
1.John Druce 1990 Washington Capitals
The 24-year-old entered the 1990 playoffs with a résumé of 16 goals in his first 94 NHL matches, and only one playoff game. Suddenly, Druce was Mr. April. He scored 14 goals in 15 games and added three assists before his team was knocked out in the third round. The right wing tallied eight times on the power play, and his OT goal in Game 5 of the Patrick Division finals downed the Rangers and lifted the Caps to their first conference final and play dates in the month of May.
Career note: Druce, who topped 14 goals only three times, participated in 38 more playoff games and scored only three times.
Jiggy had a very nice regular season, but nobody could have expected what was to come, especially since he had never appeared in a playoff game. The goalie was the darling of the 2003 playoffs while posting an impeccable 1.62 GAA and five shutouts in 21 games. Though Anaheim lost to New Jersey in the finals, Giguere became the fifth player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe.
Career note: Giguere was benched early in this year's playoffs in favor of Ilya Brizgalov, who went on his own Giguere-like run. At 29, Jiggy still may star in future playoffs.
3. Steve Penney 1984 Montreal Canadiens
Rick Wamsley and Richard Sevigny split the season in goal, but coach Jacques Lemaire reached for his lucky Penney in the postseason. The move paid dividends as the netminder, who played in his first four NHL games late that season, backstopped the Habs to the Eastern Conference finals with series victories over Boston and Quebec. He went 9-6 with playoff-leading marks of a 2.20 GAA and three shutouts.
Career note: Penney, who was soon after replaced by a rookie named Patrick Roy, played only one full season in the NHL.