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Impact
Impact!
NHL.com's Online Magazine
May/2003, Vol. 1, Issue 8
  • Stanley Cup lore is loaded with unlikely stars

  • Seven great players, but no Cups

  • Rangers' 1994 triumph was unforgettable

  • Can Wings still become a Dynasty?

  • Lester Patrick brought the Playoffs to the NHL

  • Some things to know about the Stanley Cup Finals

  • NHL another Dream Theater for LaBrie

  • Behind the scenes: Central Scouting can see them all

  • Photo of the month

  • Back issues of Impact
  • Impact! is published eight times, October-May during the NHL season.

    Editors: Rich Libero, Phil Coffey

    Production Director: Russell Levine

    Producer: Roger Sackaroff

    Creative Producer: Diana Piskyn

    Writers: Shawn Roarke, Rob Picarello, John McGourty

    Columnists: Mike Emrick, Larry Wigge

     
    John Druce
    John Druce stunned the hockey world in 1991 when he netted 14 playoff goals in 15 games after potting just eight goals in 45 regular-season matches.

    Unsung heroes
    Stanley Cup lore is loaded with unlikely stars
    By Alan Adams | Special to Impact!



    This is the time of the year when people start to wonder whether another John Druce will emerge from the shadows to become the talk of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    Druce wasn't exactly as household name in NHL circles back in the early 1990s when he played for the Washington Capitals. He was a fourth-line fixture known more for his guts than glory.

    But Dino Ciccarelli became sidelined with a bad knee in the 1991 Playoffs, Druce found himself on the Capitals' top line with Dale Hunter and Geoff Courtnall. The line clicked and played like they had been playing together for years.

    Druce stunned the hockey world when he netted 14 playoff goals in 15 games after netting just eight goals in 45 regular-season matches. Druce became the unsung hero of the '91 postseason.

    "Everything just took off. I kept on going to the net and it seemed that everything I touched around the net was going in the net," Druce said. "It was almost surreal. The whole time I was doing it, I didn't get too excited and I did not get too low. I was in a zone and even away from the rink, I felt I was in a zone."

    Druce isn't the first unsung hero to find himself in the Playoff spotlight. The NHL has a long-standing tradition of celebrating the gift of the unknown goal scorer. There's plenty of historical precedent of the anonymous scorer grabbing the spotlight unexpectedly in the postseason.

  • In 1953, Boston Bruins' Ed Sandford was the top goal scorer in the Playoffs with eight, out-performing Hall of Famer Maurice "Rocket" Richard and Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion of the Montreal Canadiens. Sanford's best Playoff production before or after was two goals. That regular-season he had scored 14 goals in 61 games.

  • In 1975, Boston's Greg Sheppard was the No. 2 playoff scorer with 11 goals and eight assists in 16 games. He had 16 goals in 75 regular-season games.

    Claude Lemieux
    In 1995, Claude Lemieux followed his six-goal regular season output by erupting for 13 goals in the postseason for the Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils, earning the Conn Smythe trophy in the process.

  • In 1985, Chicago's Darryl Sutter was among playoff leaders with 12 in 15 games. He was a modest 20-goal scorer in the regular-season.

  • In 1989, journeyman Chris Kontos came back from the Swiss League to sign with Los Angeles. He went on to score nine goals in 11 games while playing with Wayne Gretzky.

  • In 1995, Claude Lemieux followed his six-goal regular season output by erupting for 13 goals in the postseason for the Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils, earning the Conn Smythe trophy in the process.

  • In 1998, Tomas Holmstrom had seven goals and 12 assists in 22 Playoff games for the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings after registering 22 points in 57 regular-season games. Tough guy teammate Joe Kocur had four goals, the highest goal production of a career that dates to 1984-85.

  • Dave Lowry was a hard-working grinder for the Florida Panthers in the 1996 Playoffs who had never before managed more than two goals in the postseason. He finished with 10 goals in 22 playoff games and became somewhat of a hero.

    "You get on a roll in the Playoffs. It's like a disease that everyone becomes infected by," says former NHL coach Harry Neale. "You get an enthusiasm. Instead of hoping you can win, you believe you will win. You end up playing better than you thought you could."


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