Thursday's Three Stars
1. Martin Havlat, San Jose Sharks -- He likes to call himself an "April type of player", and we won't quibble with that moniker based on Thursday's playoff showing for San Jose. This was actually Havlat's first chance to be seen in a non-regular season April game since 2009, when he wore the crest of the Chicago Blackhawks. He scored two of San Jose's three goals in their 3-2 double-OT win over the host Blues, winning Game 1 with a wicked turnaround slapper past Jaroslav Halak. There was some nervousness among Silicon Valley hockey enthusiasts about Mr. April's postseason availability, after he suffered a freak knee injury on a routine line change hopping over the boards in a December game. But no more worry; Havlat posted 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the 13 regular-season games played after the injury, and now he's got two lamplighters through one playoff tilt.
2. Brad Richards, N.Y. Rangers -- Life comes too easily for some people, and Richards has always seemed like one of those guys. He's single, rich, living in New York, a long-established star NHL player. The real Richards, though, is a modest, nice guy from Prince Edward Island (try the mussels if you visit) who plays with an old-school respect for the game. Nothing flashy, nothing pretentious. In a typical Rangers game, in that it was difficult picking anybody out of the crowd who really stood out from the others, Richards was probably the best. He scored what turned out to be a technically important insurance goal (it put New York up 4-0, but it was a 4-2 final), but it was more than that; he put a game-high six shots on goal and registered what was, for him, a good number of hits (three). He didn't block a shot, but the Rangers outdid the opposition in that category as they usually do. Third in the regular season among NHL teams with 672, the Blueshirts outblocked Ottawa 20-12.
3. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins -- He didn't put any points on the score sheet, but so what? Take a look at the faceoff numbers (18-25, 72 percent) and the neutralizing defensive work he helped administer to Capitals stars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom (zero points, four combined shots) and you see why the unassuming Boston center is the favorite to win the Frank J. Selke Trophy this season. Bergeron is a pleasure to watch for true hockey purists; always in position, always thinking the next move ahead defensively -- and yet he still saves plenty for the offensive end. He had three shots on goal in the 1-0 Boston win -- only 14 fewer than the whole Caps team had all night.
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