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In Their First Playoffs, These 4 NHL Players Are Already Gamechangers!

Written by Emma Kassel. Published: May 25 2024


Compared to the regular season, the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs are a whole other beast. With more pressure, closer games, and a trophy on the line, a lot is riding on each and every player. Although it’s easy to look to experienced players for flashy and game-winning goals, these NHL 4 players are already proving themselves to be game-changers in their first-ever playoffs appearances!


1. Arturs Silovs (G), Vancouver Canucks

Arturs Silovs was thrust into the NHL Playoffs in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators after starting goalie, Thatcher Demko, and backup goalie, Casey DeSmith, both suffered injuries. The 23-year-old, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL Draft, has only appeared in 9 NHL games prior to these playoffs.


Silovs didn’t seem nervous to be in his first NHL playoffs, as he’s no stranger to pressure. He led the Latvian national team to its first-ever medal in the 2023 IIFH Ice Hockey Championship, and he was awarded the competition's MVP. After playing in 10 playoff games, he ended with a 2.91 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage, finishing 5-5.


“Artie played his (butt) off,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said. “What a playoff for that kid. That’s going to be huge for his growth.”


2. Casey Mittelstadt (C), Colorado Avalanche

Casey Mittelstadt, who was just recently traded to the Colorado Avalanche from the Buffalo Sabres in March, has had an amazing playoff run. He was selected eighth in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.           


After Game 1, Mittelstadt, who was playing in his first post-season game, received high marks from his coach and teammates. In Game 2, all three members of his line were successful, each scoring a goal. He then went on to score nine points in ten games.


“He’s a guy that once it’s on his stick, can survey the ice and check off option 1, 2, 3, etc. Then it’s just making the right decision from there. I just think it’s intensity, it’s excitement to play this time of year, and his game’s gone to a whole new level,” Avs coach Jared Bednarsaid.


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3. Matt Rempe (C), New York Rangers

If you’re a hockey fan, I’m sure you’ve heard of Matt Rempe by now. He was drafted sixth in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft to the New York Rangers and made his NHL debut this past February in the Stadium Series against the New York Islanders.


Rempe has quickly made a name for himself due to his big hits and eagerness to fight opposing players. He dropped the gloves in his first game against Islanders player, Matt Martin, and has continued to fight for his team in the following games. He has proved, though, that he is capable of more than just throwing a punch.


Rempe scored his first playoff goal in the Game 1 of the first round against the Washington Capitals, bringing the Rangers to an early lead. In addition to scoring a goal in his first-ever playoff game, Rempe also showed excellent self-control by refusing to be drawn into any pointless altercations with the Caps, who were doing everything in their power to draw him in.


“We talk to him and he has a game plan every game,” Coach Peter Laviolettesaid. “I liked the work he did at the end of the night. If you’re undisciplined, there’s a good chance you’ll lose. So, you have to walk that line. That’s a fine line to walk. Discipline always factors into that, especially in the playoffs.”


4. Mason Lohrei (D), Boston Bruins

Mason Lohrei made his playoff debut with the Boston Bruins for Game 3 of round 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lohrei, who played in both the NHL and AHL this season, was called up from the lower leagues following the injury sustained by Andrew Peeke. Mason scored the game-winning goal in Game 1 of round 2 against the Florida Panthers, along with an assist.


Lohrei has an air of confidence, and it was even more evident during the playoffs when he skated on the first defense pair alongside Charlie McAvoy. “The sky’s the limit for him. He’s an awesome kid and shows up and works,” McAvoy said after the Bruins' elimination. “I see where he can go, and it’s really going to be massive for us to see the strides that he can take this summer and watching him come into his own. I’m excited that I’m going to get to be here for that and help him in any way that I can.”


He finished up the season with 11 NHL playoff games, four goals, and nine assists.


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As the playoffs come to an end and the Summer starts, we look forward to cheering on these players later this Fall as they have more experience under their belts and a new trophy to fight for!