Players to watch in the playoffs

After a truncated 48-game regular season, the National Hockey League playoffs are about to begin. Here are 10 players to watch in the post-season:

Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin (71) looks to pass in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres in Pittsburgh Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar)


Pittsburgh finished first in the Eastern Conference despite injuries to several top players, including Malkin, Sidney Crosby and James Neal. Malkin, who nursed an upper-body injury late in the season, is usually a point machine at playoff time. The Russian forward had a whopping 36 points in 24 games during Pittsburgh's run to the Stanley Cup in 2009.

Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65), of Sweden, skates during warm ups before an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)


Ottawa's star blue-liner missed 31 games with an Achilles tendon injury and immediately made an impact upon his return. He assisted on both goals in a 2-1 victory over Washington that clinched a playoff spot for Ottawa. If last year's Norris Trophy winner displays his usual form, the injury-riddled Senators may just keep up their surprising ways in the post-season.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer makes a save on the New Jersey Devils during first period NHL action in Toronto on Monday March 4, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn


The young netminder is a big reason why the Toronto Maple Leafs are making their first post-season appearance in nine years. He handled the starting job with aplomb this season, despite constant rumours that Toronto was seeking an upgrade in net. Reimer's steady play gave the Maple Leafs a much-needed confidence boost and has Leafs Nation primed for some long-awaited playoff hockey.

Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin celebrates a goal against the Montreal Canadiens by teammate Jack Hillen during third period NHL hockey action Tuesday, April 9, 2013 in Montreal. The Capitals beat the Canadiens 3-2. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson


After a sluggish start to the season, Ovechkin carried the Washington Capitals to the Southeast Division title. The Russian sniper found his scoring touch and was a force late in the season. The Capitals have fewer points than some teams below them in the standings but get the No. 3 seed as a division winner. If Ovechkin continues his current scoring pace, Washington could be a tough foe this spring.

Montreal Canadiens' P.K. Subban (right) showers Toronto Maple Leafs goal tender James Reimer with snow during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday April 13 , 2013.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young


The young defenceman has helped turn the Montreal Canadiens into contenders again. Subban is averaging nearly a point a game and logs plenty of ice time each night. He's also not afraid to throw his weight around. Subban is known for the energy and excitement he brings to the team. The Bell Centre crowd might ride that wave and give the Habs a boost on home ice.

Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, right, passes the puck as Calgary Flames' Dennis Wideman defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, April 26, 2013 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Brian Kersey)


The anchor of the Chicago Blackhawks showed again this season why he is one of the most dynamic players in the league. The team captain is a natural leader who guided the Blackhawks to the top of the overall standings. Toews maintained his usual point-a-game pace this year and helped Chicago become a top favourite to win the Stanley Cup.

Vancouver Canucks' Ryan Kesler looks on during hockey practice in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday April 10, 2012. The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings are scheduled to play game 1 of an NHL Western Conference quarterfinal series Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck


The Vancouver Canucks have a much different look when Kesler is in the lineup. He has battled foot, shoulder and elbow problems over the last year but when healthy, gives the team some real punch with his physical presence and scoring ability. The Canucks are hungry for another crack at the Stanley Cup after falling just short two years ago. A healthy Kesler might just get them back to the final.

In this Nov. 16, 2011 file photo, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, left, and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, of Slovenia, wait for the linesman to drop the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)


The Anaheim forward didn't coast after signing a lucrative long-term contract extension in the middle of the season. Getzlaf averaged over a point a game and helped lead Anaheim to the Pacific Division title. He also knows what it takes to win. Getzlaf led the Ducks to a Stanley Cup in 2007 and added Olympic gold for Canada three years later.

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, of Finland, waits for a goal scored by Nashville Predators' Nick Spaling, not shown, to be reviewed in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 21, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. The goal was allowed. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)


The St. Louis Blues don't have a lot of household names on the roster — just a lot of solid players who get the job done. Stewart has stepped up this season and has become one of the leaders on a team that is no pushover. He has come into his own in his third campaign with the Blues and led the team in scoring.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick makes a save during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Monday, March 25, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


The young netminder stole the show last year and guided the Los Angeles Kings all the way to a Stanley Cup victory. His numbers are down a bit this season but he's quite comfortable in the post-season spotlight. Quick posted three shutouts and had a sparkling 1.41 goals-against average in last year's playoffs.