Two days into the NHL playoffs and the impact of Wisconsin men's hockey alumni is being felt. Big time.
To start, 11 former Badgers are skating in the playoffs, the most of any college team in the nation.
There have been eight games played and 27 goals scored thus far. Badgers account for 14.8 percent of the goals, 20 percent of the first goals and 20 percent of the game-winning goals, including 50 percent of the overtime game-winning goals. Granted there isn't a large sample of yet, but former Badger names can be heard in five of the eight series and on eight of the 16 teams involved in the playoffs.
Kyle Turris scored the first goal of the playoffs for any team when he gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead at Detroit on Wednesday night. The goal came just 2:16 into his first Stanley Cup playoff game. It made for a memorable playoff debut for the 2006-07 Badger.
Not to be outdone in that same game, veteran Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski (UW - 1991-95) scored what proved to be the game-winning goal later in the contest in Detroit's 4-2 victory. Among Badgers in this year's playoffs, Rafalski boasts the only three Stanley Cup rings, winning two with the New Jersey Devils (2000 and 2003) and one with the Red Wings (2008).
A pair of Badgers on the Nashville Predators contributed to the Predators' 4-1 victory over Brad Winchester's (UW - 1999-2003) Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, with defenseman Ryan Suter (UW - 2003-04) assisting on the first goal of the game, while rookie Blake Geoffrion (UW - 2006-10) notched his first-career playoff point with an assist in his first-career playoff game.
Turris scored fast for Phoenix in the Coyotos' series, but Dany Heatley (UW - 1999-2001) scored faster for San Jose, tallying just 28 seconds into the Sharks' series against Davis Drewiske's (UW - 2004-08) Los Angeles Kings.
But it was Heatley's Sharks teammate Joe Pavelski (UW - 2002-06) who made the biggest headline of the first two days, scoring his third playoff overtime game-winning goal and his seventh playoff game-winning goal overall to give San Jose a 3-2 victory in game one. The "playoff legend," as he is dubbed at the end of the overtime game-winning goal video, "Pavelski knows the hero role."
Just ask San Jose's coach. "We'd like not to have it in overtime," Coach Todd McLellan said, "but Pavs has been a tremendous player for us. We count on him in so many different situations. He's really recognized at this time of the year as a guy who elevates his play."
Teams with Badgers are currently 3-5 in the playoffs, with three series matching Badgers in head-to-head action.
In addition to those already mentioned, rookies Derek Stepan (UW - 2008-10) and Ryan McDonagh (UW - 2007-10) opened with a 2-1 overtime loss for the New York Rangers at Washington, while Jake Dowell's (2003-07) Chicago Blackhawks fell, 2-0, to Vancouver in the Eau Claire, Wis., native's playoff debut.
Defenseman Brendan Smith (2007-10), though he has yet to play in an NHL game, is soaking in the atmosphere with the Detroit Red Wings. He was called up from the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins prior to the start of the playoffs to serve as one of Detroit's "Black Aces."