Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A look back at five playoff rookie double-dippers

Jake Guentzel is having the sort of rookie playoff year that every NHL player dreams of. To play well under the pressure of the post-season as an NHL rookie is rare, and for most players it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Or, in the case of Matt Murray, twice in a lifetime.

Yes, Murray is technically still a rookie, even though he's on the verge of winning his second Stanley Cup as a starting goaltender. That's because he only played a handful of games during the 2015-16 regular season, meaning he didn't lose his rookie eligibility. He'll probably be named the goalie on this year's all-rookie team, and he might collect the award with two Cup rings in his pocket.

Murray is an extreme case, but it's actually not all that rare for NHL players to get multiple playoff runs when they're still considered rookies. It happened to current players like Torey Krug, Chris Kreider, Logan Couture and Tyler Toffoli. One of the Predators trying to prevent Murray from repeating as champion, P.K. Subban, pulled it off a few years ago.

And so did some of the best players in NHL history. So today, let's look back at five Hall of Famers who played well in the post-season as a rookie, and enjoyed it so much they did it again.

Ken Dryden

Before Murray came along, Dryden was the go-to case for establishing playoff dominance right out of the gate. He'd only played in six regular season games when he took over as Montreal's starter for the 1971 playoffs, but he was fantastic, posting a very good (for the time) 3.00 goals-against average while leading the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup. For his performance, Dryden earned the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP.

He continued his dominance into the following season, finishing second to Bobby Orr in the Hart Trophy race and earning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. But his second playoff run wasn't quite as successful as his first. While he posted an even better GAA of 2.83, Dryden and the Canadiens had their reign ended by the Rangers in six games.

That loss ended up being a minor detour for Dryden on the way to six Stanley Cup rings, making him one of only two goaltenders to ever hit that mark.

>> Read the full post at The Hockey News

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