Time for Ignited Warriors, but this time around it is for the playoffs. There are some differences in comparison to the regular season version of these pieces. For the post-season, it will be series by series rather than team by team and it will be the top 3 players from each team for a total of 6 warriors. They will be completed not long after a series has finished. It took awhile for the Panthers to get back into the playoffs but they at least gave us 7 games in the first round, pushing it to overtime in the end. This was definitely the least exciting series to start off the 2012 post-season but no one really thought it was going to last as long as it did. The Devils won the series 4-3 and sent the Panther and rats packing. Let’s see who stood out:

Florida Panthers
1st star: Sean Bergenheim
Bergenheim scored big goals last post-season for the Tampa Bay Lightning but they decided not to keep him. The Panthers took advantage of that and he tallied the post points for them in the playoffs. Bergenheim found the back of the net for 3 goals and added 3 assists. Only 1 of the 6 points came on the powerplay. He had a -2 rating and 4 penalty minutes. In addition, Bergenheim had 24 shots on goal, 5 takeaways (zero giveaways), 2 blocked shots and 18 hits. Sean Bergenheim has a cap hit of $2, 750, 000 and will not become an unrestricted free agent until the 2015-2016 season.

2nd star: Stephen Weiss

Weiss is one of the leaders on the Florida Panthers and he definitely led by example in this first round match-up. He potted 3 goals and tallied 2 assists while having an even plus/minus rating. 3 of his 5 points came on the man-advantage. Weiss had to make his way to the penalty box for a total of 6 minutes throughout the series. Furthermore, Weiss took 32% of Florida’s face-offs and won 51.6% of them. He also had 3 takeaways, 7 blocked shots, 6 hits and 12 shots on goal with a 25% shooting percentage. Stephen Weiss has one more year left on his contract with a cap hit of $3, 100, 000. He currently has a NMC.

3rd star: Kris Versteeg
Versteeg has bounced around a few locker rooms since his Chicago days but he has the experience and knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately for him and the Panthers, they are now out of cup contention. Versteeg had 3 goals and 2 assists with a +2 rating. Two of his points came on the powerplay. Additionally, Versteeg had 8 penalty minutes and 18 shots on goal. He only took 15 total face-offs but won 60% (6) of them. Versteeg had 2 takeaways, 5 blocked shots and 15 hits as well. Kris Versteeg’s cap hit is $3, 083, 333 but will become a restricted free agent this summer.

Honorable Mentions:

Marcel Goc (2G, 3A, 60.2% in the face-off dot), Brian Campbell (1G, 4A, 10 blocks), Mikael Samuelsson (5A, 21 hits), Mike Weaver (24 hits, 11 blocks), Jerred Smithson (23 hits, 73.7% in face-off dot), Erik Gudbranson (22 hits), Ed Jovanosvski (20 hits) and Dmitry Kulikov (20 hits)

The Fallen:
Keaton Ellerby (undisclosed), Marco Sturm (lower-body), Jack Skille (shoulder) and Matt Bradley (concussion)

New Jersey Devils
1st star: Travis Zajac
Zajac missed a lot of the regular season due to injury but so far in the post-season, he has been one of the go to guys to put the puck in the net. Zajac scored 3 goals and added 3 helpers against the Panthers.  Travis was the overtime hero in game 6 to push the series to another game. He had an even plus/minus rating and did not take a single penalty. On top of that, Zajac took 32.8% of the Devils’ face-offs and won 58.9% of them. He had 5 takeaways, 15 shots on goal, 19 hits and 1 block. Travis Zajac’s current cap hit is $3, 887, 500 and will become an unrestricted free agent when the 2013-2014 season rolls around.

2nd star: Ilya Kovalchuk

This particular player needs to continue to show up if the Devils want to be successful. He did this in round 1 but the Flyers will be more of a difficult task than the Panthers were (no offence to them). Kovalchuk found twine for 3 goals and had 2 assists with a -3 rating. 2 of his 5 points came on the man-advantage and he also did not take 1 penalty throughout the series. Kovalchuk had 25 shots on goal, 2 takeaways, 1 blocked shot and 8 hits. Ilya Kovalchuk’s cap hit is $6, 666, 667 until the year 2025. He has a NMC until the end of 2015-2016 and then it switches to a NTC from 2016-2017 until the end of the deal.

3rd star: Martin Brodeur
Is this Marty’s last year in the NHL? Maybe but if so, he has a lot of memories and things to be proud of. He has had an unbelievable career but I personally think he isn’t done yet. Some of the saves he is making remind me of the Brodeur we saw many years ago. Even though he was pulled in one of the 7 games, Marty was still solid in the series and deserves this final spot. His record was 4-2 and had 1 shutout. The Panthers fired 180 shots against him and Brodeur kicked aside 166 of them. He had a .922 save percentage and a GAA of 2.06. His cap hit is $5, 200, 000 and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Devils will desperately need a goaltender if Brodeur decides to hang up the pads for good.

Honorable Mentions:
David Clarkson (5A, 27 hits), Zach Parise (2G, 2A, 24 hits), Steve Bernier (26 hits), Dainius Zubrus (30 hits), Bryce Salvador (19 hits, 10 blocks) and Anton Volchenkov (15 hits, 10 blocks)

The Fallen:
Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) and Jacob Josefson (broken wrist)

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