Rangers-Ryan Callahan: The Rangers captain did it all on Thursday night in Carolina---from diving in front of slap shots while killing a penalty, to assisting on derek Stepan's game-opening goal, to firing six shots on goal and delivering four hits while playing more than 26 minutes, to finally vaulting the Rangers into the playoffs with his overtime goal. Callahan is third on the team in goals (15) and points (29) and he is finishing the season in great fashion. Callahan enters play riding a season-best six-game winning streak, posting 4-5-9 numbers in that span. Most importantly he continues lead by his tremendous work ethic and passionate play in all three zones of the ice. He has most definitely done the captain's C proud as leader of this Rangers team the past two years.
Devils-Ilya Kovalchuk: Though he has scored at nearly a point-per-game pace (31 points in 36 games played), Kovalchuk's season--like that of his team--has been disappointing. The supremely-skilled winger has scored only 11 goals, on just nine percent shooting efficency---the lowest of his NHL career. The Devils lost ten straight games when he was injured and missing from the lineup and have perked up---too little too late---since his return four games ago. He enters the final game of the season riding a three-game point streak (1-3-4) and a two-point game the other night against Pittsburgh. But he was quoted as saying the other day that this was the worst season of his ten-year NHL career.