Unheralded MVPs

Stars outside the spotlight can carry their teams deep

Updated: April 10, 2012, 1:50 PM ET
By Tom Awad | Hockey Prospectus
Patrice BergeronJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesPatrice Bergeron may not have the superstar rep, but makes a huge impact for the B's.

Every team's playoff hopes lie in the hands of its best players. While you need everybody to be contributing, there's a reason we still hear the platitude "You need your best players to be your best players." Some of them -- like Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Claude Giroux -- are obvious. Others are more subtle, either because their stats are less flashy or their reputation is less well-established.

As the 2012 playoffs begin Wednesday, there are several players whose impact on their team's potential postseason success far outweighs their reputation. The following are four of the most noteworthy, starting with a pivotal pivot in Boston and an underrated blueliner in New York.