As the NHL season sputtered to an ugly end with a pair of alarmingly slow, sorry-looking blowout hockey games, it's easier to think about the bad parts of the Stanley Cup Finals. We can reflect on Alex Burrows chomping down on the glove of Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. We can remember Nathan Horton being taken off on a stretcher. We can recall the NHL's bizarre rulings on both.
These are the types of memories we'd prefer stayed in the closet. To keep them at "Oh, that?" The same goes for two veterans sticking their fingers in Burrows' mouth or Mason Raymond walking off the ice when he shouldn't have been moved. And that's just the ugly. The bad was two of the World's most impressive athletes vanishing and a Hall of Fame caliber goalie looking like an amateur. These were not the things we want to remember about the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.
This year's Stanley Cup Finals was a showcase of all that casual fans can't stand about the NHL. And it sure didn't help to have Vancouver fans boo the commissioner, then riot in the streets. The lasting images of brutal hits and shameful behavior should not be what we remember from a wonderful 2010-11 playoffs. It should be the memories and players we came to know over the last two months.
That being said, one of the lures of hockey's playoffs is that there are always players who aren't 50-goal scorers or Vezina Trophy winners who step up at the right time. They aren't household names, they don't have giant cap hits, but these role players can make all the difference. Here are five players who were unsung heroes during the 2010-11 playoffs: