The first round of the EURO League playoffs is finished and there were not too many surprises in the team results. The top four seeds in the Northern Conference all advanced as did the top three in the Southern Conference. Ahens, which was only a point behind Munich in the regular season, was the only lower-seeded team to advance when they knocked off the Dire Wolf in 7 games.
As for individuals, some players only played in four games while others had seven-game series in which to accumulate statistics, so it’s difficult to compare. But I’m doing it any way.
Chuck’s First Round Heroes
F – Brandon Sutter, Athens – second in the league in shots on goal (33 in 7 games) and tied for first in takeaways (15)
F- Gabriel Landeskog, Madrid – He scored at least a point in all 7 games against Bratislava, tallied two shorthanded goals and tied Sutter for most takeaways.
F- Adam Henrique, Gothenburg – Seventeen of the top 18 players in plus-minus rating in the first round were from either Minsk, Paris or Belfast. Henrique was plus 5 through 6 games in a series that pitted two very even teams against each other. He scored 10 points and logged more ice time per game than any other forward.
D – Shea Weber, Madrid – The big guy missed a game with injury and played dinged up in Game 7 but still had more points (6) than any other defenseman. Three of his 6 points game in Game 7 when the series was on the line.
D – Dan Girardi, Gothenburg – He tied for first among defensemen in blocked shots (13) and tied for second in points (5).
G – Tuukka Rask, Paris – The man was sick. He stopped more than 97 percent of the shots that came his way and allowed only 3 goals in 4 games against Zurich, a team that knows how to shoot the puck.
F – Derek Stepan, Madrid – The Royals’ top center was in the top 10 in shots, blocked shots and takeaways. In points, he was first in the league by a lot, scoring 3 goals and 11 assists in 7 games.
F – Nicklas Backstrom, Minsk – The regular season scoring champ remained on fire with 9 points in just 4 games. He also was plus 8 against Dublin.
F – Milan Lucic, Minsk – He tied for the league lead in goals with 6 in just 4 games.
D – T.J. Brodie, Munich – He was tied with teammate Ryan Wilson for first in takeaways among defensemen, and was second in hits. No penalty minutes and 2 assists in 7 very close, defensive games.
D – Staffan Kronwall, Athens – A good all-around series for little brother and a clutch goal with Game 7 tied at 1-1, followed by an assist with a minute left.
G – Cory Schneider, Munich – We won’t get to see him anymore this playoff season, but he put on a show. In seven games, he stopped an average of 36 shots and his save percentage was .948.