The Vancouver Canucks couldn't ask for any more from Mikael Samuelsson in the opening round of this year's playoffs.
Samuelsson brought a Stanley Cup ring with him when he signed with the Canucks last summer. Three more series like the one he had against Los Angeles might get him another one. Samuelsson helped power the Canucks to a six-game victory against the Kings in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series by scoring 7 goals -- more than anyone else in the first round -- and he finished with 11 points, second only to Sidney Crosby.
Samuelsson stepped up with a key goal to help the Canucks rally for a 6-4 win in Game 4, scored twice in Vancouver's 7-2 win in Game 5 and set up 2 goals -- including Daniel Sedin's game-winner -- in Sunday's clincher. He also led the Canucks with a plus-8 rating and was a plus player in every game of the series.
The only question for Samuelsson is, what can he do for an encore?
Five up -- Five other players who were hot during the first round of the playoffs:
Sidney Crosby -- Before Saturday, Crosby had 14 points and had not been on the ice for a goal against. He didn't score in the series-clincher against Ottawa and was minus-2, but still led all first-round scorers and showed why he's among the NHL's elite.
Alex Ovechkin -- After a no-show in Game 1, Ovi has been a terror ever since. He had 5 goals and 9 points in Washington's next four games as the Caps took command of their series against Washington.
Joe Pavelski -- While San Jose's big guns struggled, Pavelski shot Colorado right out of the playoffs, scoring a sixth-attacker goal that led to an OT win in Game 2, the overtime win in Game 4 and 2 goals -- including the series-winner -- in Game 6.
Brian Boucher -- Boucher got to play for Philadelphia only because the Flyers were out of healthy alternatives. All he did was outplay Martin Brodeur while allowing just eight goals in five games -- capping the series with a 3-0 shutout in Game 5.
David Legwand -- After getting only 6 points in 20 games following the Olympic break, Legwand has 7 points in Nashville's first five games against Chicago -- he's been involved in 58 percent of the Predators' goals so far.
Five down -- Five players who weren't:
Martin Brodeur -- The future Hall of Famer is a Vezina Trophy finalist, but not because of his playoff performance. Brodeur admittedly got little help from his New Jersey teammates against Philadelphia, but he couldn't steal a game, either. Brodeur has been in goal for every playoff game in the last three years, each of which ended with New Jersey losing to a lower-seeded team in the opening round.
Jason Arnott -- Nashville is desperate for offense, and it's not getting any from its captain. Arnott had no points in the Predators' first five games against Chicago and was minus-2.
Duncan Keith -- Chicago's Norris Trophy finalist is off to a tough start in the playoffs. Through five games, he has not registered a point and is minus-5, even though his team has allowed just 12 goals.
Jonathan Quick -- Quick won a franchise-record 39 regular-season games for Los Angeles, but struggled down the stretch and again in the latter stages of the Kings' playoff series against Vancouver. He allowed 21 goals in six games and finished with an .884 save percentage.
Joe Thornton -- The Sharks rallied to beat Colorado in the opening round with almost no production from their No. 1 center. Thornton had just 3 assists in the six games (one on an empty-netter in Game 6) and was minus-4.
Injuries, news and notes
Out -- Philadelphia lost two top-six forwards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, to broken right feet. Both had surgery that will sideline them for at least the next round. … Milan Hejduk missed Colorado's last three games against San Jose with an apparent shoulder injury.
Returning -- Chicago got defenseman Brian Campbell back Thursday after he had missed nearly six weeks with a broken collarbone. … Buffalo hopes to have its top scorer, Thomas Vanek, back for Monday's game in Boston. He hasn't played since going down with an ankle injury in Game 2. Another Sabres forward, Drew Stafford, returned from a concussion April 19. … Philadelphia's Ian Laperriere expects to play in the second round despite suffering a broken orbital bone Thursday when he blocked a shot. … Washington defenseman Shaone Morrisonn likely will play Monday after missing two games with an arm injury. Center Eric Belanger said he'll play Monday despite losing several teeth to a high stick Friday and undergoing dental surgery.
Still out -- Bruins center Marc Savard, out with a concussion since March 7, has been skating and is scheduled to undergo testing Monday. … Phoenix captain Shane Doan hasn't played since injuring his shoulder last Sunday. He was a scratch again in Game 6, though coach Dave Tippett hopes he'll be able to go in Game 7. … Flyers goalie Michael Leighton (high ankle sprain) went through a full practice Saturday and could be ready for the second round -- though he'll likely serve as the backup to first-round hero Brian Boucher. … Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury.
Brad Richards, coming off a career year, will need about eight weeks to recover from surgery to repair a tear in his hip labrum. … Minnesota defenseman Cam Barker had arthroscopic ankle surgery last week. Teammate Mikko Koivu will have knee and shoulder surgery during the offseason.
The week ahead -- Half of the eight teams who will play in the conference semifinals have been decided; the rest will be determined in the next three days. Three teams could qualify tonight, or there could be as many as four Game 7s.
Games to watch
Chicago at Nashville (April 26, 9 p.m. ET, TSN) -- The Predators will have to get over blowing a last-minute lead and losing in overtime Saturday or they'll have the summer to think about it.
Washington at Montreal (April 26, 7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) -- The Capitals can't be happy at having to go to the Bell Centre after missing their chance to end this series in five games -- only to spot the Canadiens an early 2-0 lead and lose.
Buffalo at Boston (April 26, 7 p.m. ET, CBC) -- The Sabres have scored first in all five games, led 2-0 in three games -- and won just twice. They'll have to keep the Bruins from bombarding Ryan Miller to force a seventh game.
Detroit at Phoenix (April 27, 9 p.m. ET, TSN, RIS) -- The Coyotes stunned everyone with a 5-2 win at Detroit on Sunday to send this series to the limit. Expect Jobing.com Arena to be rocking.