Played at its highest level, hockey is an intense and physical game, and everything gets turned up during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Over the years, however, a number of special players have flourished during the most challenging time of the season. Here is my short list of the 10 best postseason players in the history of the National Hockey League.
RW Jari Kurri — Kurri may have benefited from playing with the high-powered Edmonton Oilers, but there’s no denying his postseason prowess. He led the Oilers in playoff goals in each of their first four championship seasons and had 106 goals, including 14 game-winners, in 200 career playoff games.
RW Jaromir Jagr — An 18-year-old Jagr won his first of back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991, and he returned to the finals in 2013 with the Boston Bruins at the age of 40. Over that span of 202 career playoff games, he collected 199 points, the most of any active player.
D Paul Coffey — A four-time Cup winner, Coffey has the sixth-most postseason points in NHL history, and the most points for a defenseman with 196. In the 1985 playoffs, the skilled blue-liner tallied four game-winning goals and 37 points as the Oilers won their second straight championship.
G Martin Brodeur — Brodeur is the active leader in playoff victories by a goaltender with 113 and has an NHL-best 24 postseason shutouts. He’s led the New Jersey Devils to three Stanley Cup championships and posted a goals against average of 1.67 or lower in each of those postseason runs.
C Sidney Crosby — Widely regarded as the best player in the game, Crosby is the active leader in points per game in the playoffs at 1.280. In 2009, he became the youngest captain in NHL history to win a championship when at the age of 21 he led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup.
C Jean Beliveau — Beliveau, who won 10 Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens, collected 79 goals and 97 assists for 176 points in 162 playoff games. But what’s most impressive about his postseason career is that he won his first Stanley Cup at the age of 24 and his last 15 years later.
LW Mike Bossy — Bossy powered the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups in the early 80s. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy — given to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs — in 1982 and scored four game-winning goals in the 1983 Conference Finals before netting the game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup round. He had 85 goals and 160 points in 129 postseason games.
G Patrick Roy — Roy is a four-time Stanley Cup winner (two each with the Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche) and the only player in NHL history to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy three times. His career postseason record was 151-94 with a 2.30 goals against average.
C Mark Messier — Messier was a key member of the Oilers dynasty in the 80s, even winning a championship without Wayne Gretzky in 1990, and became a postseason legend by carrying the New York Rangers to their first championship in 54 years in 1994. A six-time Stanley Cup winner, Messier retired with the second-most playoff points in NHL history.
C Wayne Gretzky — The Great One by far was the most prolific scorer in postseason history with 122 goals and 260 assists for 382 points. To put his stats in perspective, no other player has more than 300 postseason points (Messier is a distant second with 295). Gretzky lifted the Cup four times and won a pair of Conn Smythe Trophies during his celebrated career with the Oilers.
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