They don't actually call him The King, he just is. This spring has been the spring of Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, both on and off the ice. The defending Norris Trophy winner has been a dynamic force and was the Habs' most important player outside Carey Price in their topsy-turvy series against the favored Bruins. He leads the Canadiens with 12 points and is the top-scoring defenseman in the postseason. And if he isn't already loathed by Rangers fans, he soon will be, just as he got under the skin of the Bruins and their supporters. His puck-moving skills and his ability and willingness to jump into the play were instrumental in the Canadiens' successful power play this season. The power play was a key factor in helping the Canadiens staying close with the Bruins; they were 8-for-25 in the series with the man advantage. The Rangers will have to pay close attention to Subban both 5-on-5 and on the power play, although they were rock-solid killing penalties against the Penguins. They allowed just one goal on 20 opportunities in their seven games with Pittsburgh. More than that, the Rangers will have to guard against letting the free-talking Subban divert their focus, which happened to the Bruins.
We're going to cheat a bit and go with heroes in waiting. It hasn't always been easy for Brad Richards in New York and it's been downright humbling at times, as it was in the playoffs a year ago when he was a healthy scratch under then-head coach John Tortorella. And it hasn't been an easy season for Richards' former and current teammate and longtime pal Martin St. Louis, what with the Canadian Olympic controversy and his subsequent request for the Tampa Bay Lightning to trade him. But there's something karmic about the fact that the two friends, largely responsible for the seminal Stanley Cup win by the Lightning in 2004, aren't just playing on the same team but are playing again on the same line. And it was a nice feed from St. Louis to Richards that netted the Rangers' winning goal in Game 7 in Pittsburgh. Richards, after a season full of rumors that he will be the subject of a compliance buyout at the end of the season, leads the Rangers with nine points and two game winners. St. Louis is right behind with eight points and one game winner -- which came on Mother's Day shortly after his own mother died suddenly in Montreal.
Canadiens: Carey Price
He's not really a hero in waiting, but Price is definitely the heroic sort. After last year's playoff meltdown in the first round against the 7-seed Ottawa Senators, you wondered whether Price had the mental toughness to be "the man" when it mattered most. Well, after standing tall for Canada in Sochi en route to an Olympic gold, and now after having kept the Canadiens on track even when it looked as though they were headed for a second-round derailment against Boston, those questions are more than moot. Price outplayed Vezina Trophy finalist Tuukka Rask and will now face off against a former Vezina Trophy winner in Lundqvist, who yearns for his first berth in the Stanley Cup finals. Price's teammate Max Pacioretty said after Wednesday's series clincher that Price's play leaves him "speechless." That about sums it up for a goalie who is 8-3 this spring with a .926 save percentage.