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Who are Game 7’s potential “no-name” heroes?

Jun 14, 2011, 9:14 PM EDT

Rich Peverley, Manny Malhotra Getty Images

Stanley Cup finals Game 7s through NHL history have often provided us with big performances from players that one wouldn’t immediately think of when it came to their teams winning the Stanley Cup. Think back to 2009 when Maxime Talbot scored the Penguins only two goals of the game to help them beat the Red Wings to win the Cup in Detroit. Talbot scored just 13 goals that season but had the two biggest of the year to help them clinch the Cup. Other names from the past like Aaron Ward in 2006 with Carolina and Ruslan Fedotenko in 2004 with Tampa Bay stand out as others who seized the day and became legends in their home town. NHL.com took a look at the recent Game 7 heroes since 2000 and while some of those names will be a blast from the past for you, most of them at the time were a who’s-who of “who’s that?” players.

With Game 7 set to drop the puck at 8 p.m. tomorrow night in Vancouver (live on NBC) the Canucks and Boston Bruins will be hoping to see their stars try and shoulder the load. If they can’t do that, just who else can get it done for them? We’ve circled a few guys from each team preemptively.

Three guys to watch for Boston: Rich Peverley, Dennis Seidenberg, and Chris Kelly

Peverley hadn’t been heard from too much through the playoffs until he ascended to the top line to take over for the injured Nathan Horton. There he saw immediate success in Game 4 and has had the special offensive spark the team has needed with Horton out with a concussion. In this series he’s got two goals and two assists and while Vancouver is likely more than aware of him now, when you’ve got a line with Peverley, Milan Lucic, and David Krejci he’s probably the guy you’re least worried about. That’s what makes him most dangerous now.

Dennis Seidenberg has been Boston’s double-secret weapon on defense in helping Zdeno Chara shut down opponents but his shot from the point can be dangerous when he opts to use it. He’s got a generally low, heavy shot that’s ideal for deflections in front and if it finds its way through can hit the back of the net. Finding a defensive hero to score goals or set others up can be huge in a Game 7 and Seidenberg fits the bill since most everyone will be worried about Chara.

Chris Kelly is an ideal sleeper candidate. He plays on the third line with Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder and while those two guys have the offensive punch necessary to make things happen, Kelly’s the quiet man. He’s got a goal and an assist in the series and he’s the center on that line. If the Bruins get the depth scoring they’ll need to be successful, Kelly could figure into the mix ideally. He’ll have his hands full chasing down the Sedin line through the night but the B’s can counter well themselves.

Three guys to watch for Vancouver: Jannik Hansen, Alexander Edler, and Manny Malhotra

Jannik Hansen has had his opportunities during the finals to score. A handful of breakaway opportunities and a few dekes too many have resulted in just one virtually meaningless goal for Hansen in the series (a goal coming in Boston’s 8-1 Game 3 win). With Mason Raymond out for Game 7 with a broken vertebra, Hansen figures to get promoted to the second line to play alongside Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler. If Hansen can find a scoring touch, he could become Vancouver’s favorite great Dane.

Alexander Edler is a curious guy on the Vancouver blue line. He plays alongside Kevin Bieksa and while Bieksa gets most of the attention and the workload of the pair, Edler sees time on the power play and plenty of ice time aside from that. Much like everyone else on Vancouver, Edler’s shots haven’t found the back of the net but he’s played strong and his shots on the power play can be tricky. With two assists in the series, that means Edler has helped out on 25% of the Canucks goals. Yeah… The offense is hurting a little bit.

You didn’t think we’d not pick Manny Malhotra would you? It’s not just a sentimental choice here given that Malhotra seemed unlikely to even play again this year after injuring his eye in March, but he’s played strong fourth line minutes and now with Raymond out, perhaps he gets a couple more minutes on the ice in five-on-five situations. Just picture the drama if Malhotra turned into the Game 7 hero for Vancouver. In a series devoid of feel good stories, that would be pretty tough to beat.

  1. nhlbruins90 - Jun 15, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    I’d say Kelly will be the man. There’s a chance that Seguin will have another one of those games too.

    • thorisbc - Jun 15, 2011 at 8:30 AM

      And don’t forget about Lapierre. He has already shown that he has what it takes to put it behind Taylor (not an easy thing to do). Its going to be a great game!!!

  2. homelanddefense - Jun 15, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Ill give you Peverley, but I dont see it with Seidenburg or Kelly. Seidenburg is a great defender, but offers very little offensively. His contributions as a top line defender have been invaluable, but I dont suspect him scoring many points.

    And my lasting impression of Kelly is him CONSTANTLY missing the net with shots and hitting the pipes.

    I hope Im wrong and they both score goals tonight

    • nhlbruins90 - Jun 15, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      You’re right about Kelly, he does lack the finish to be a top line player. Maybe for one night, just one night, he can pop one in. Where nerves are a concern, he might have an advantage. He can fly just below the radar, while the heat is really on players like Lucic. He has much less to lose here in Boston since he was a late addition and all. (Although with a name like Kelly, we wouldn’t mind if he stuck around awhile.) This could all work in his favor.

  3. crusty14 - Jun 15, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    Thor, I think your confusing the bruins goalie with Tim “the tool man” Taylor! Hidey-ho neighbour!

  4. bigbear42 - Jun 15, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    I think it will be Jeff Tambellini. Why? Because he’s the one taking Mason Raymond’s spot and therefore he makes the least sense, which in playoff hockey tends to be what prevails.

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