When the Phoenix Coyotes acquired Antoine Vermette from Columbus in late February, they expected him to add depth and playmaking to a group of forwards that had been having trouble scoring. But he's provided much more than offense during this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Before this spring, Vermette's last playoff win had come in Game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, which his Senators lost in five games to Anaheim. Vermette recorded no points and was minus-8 in eight playoff games with Columbus in 2008 and Ottawa in 2010 -- all losses. But with Phoenix, Vermette has been an unlikely offensive catalyst for a team that has won its first two series since moving to the desert from Winnipeg in 1996.
Center - PHX
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 9
SOG: 17 | +/-: 1
In the first round against Chicago, Vermette was a major contributor, scoring three power-play goals, including one in Game 6 that effectively wrapped up the series for the Coyotes. That hot play continued against the Nashville Predators
, as the eight-year veteran opened the second-round series with three points in two games. His best all-around performance may have come in Game 2, when he collected a goal and an assist while winning 13 of 20 faceoffs in a 5-3 win. After going scoreless in Games 3 and 4, the first time all postseason he had gone without a point in consecutive games, Vermette again made big plays in Game 5, assisting on Derek Morris
' opening tally, a goal that put the Coyotes on their way to a 2-1 victory and their first trip to the conference finals since entering the NHL in 1979