Maxim Lapierre Living up to the Title of Playoff Performer


When the Pittsburgh Penguins traded for St. Louis Blues Center Maxim Lapierre they cited him as a “playoff performer”. Guys like me that cover this team on a regular basis were quite underwhelmed and unimpressed by Lapierre throughout the remainder of the regular season and doubted that he could have a positive impact in the post season.

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However, in the first two games of this playoff season Lapierre has done nothing but impress. He has shown tenacity, toughness, skill, and the ever-so-coveted grit. And, yes, he even looked pretty darn good in the advanced stats world in Pittsburgh’s game 1 loss.

In 35 regular season games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Maxim Lapierre had two points. He also posted a dismal 43.2 corsi-for per 60 (5v5). While you don’t expect a lot of offense from Lapierre, the most disappointing part for me was his lack of physicality. Where was the tough, hard-nosed, gritty player that we were promised?

Well, right on queue, Maxim Lapierre turned it up in a big way for the playoffs. In game 1 he posted an insane 103.7 corsi-for per 60 (5v5). He hasn’t recorded a point yet in the series, but when guys like that do the things Lapierre does, it frustrates opponents and takes focus away from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the rest of Pittsburgh’s big guns.

How does a guy like Maxim Lapierre distract opponents without getting on the score sheet?   Imagine, your team is trailing to a team that you’re supposed to steamroll at home in game 2. Maxim Lapierre skates past your bench chirping, “Oh, Sid is on fire, boys! That’s what happens when you get him p****d off!”. How do you react?

You start overthinking yourself when defending Sidney Crosby. You also start worrying about where Lapierre is on the ice so you can take a shot at him. You might even take a bad penalty.

Mar 9, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (88) speaks with Pittsburgh Penguins center Maxim Lapierre (40) between plays during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

This is why agitator’s still have a role in the NHL. The guys that do it well can have a huge impact on a game. Of course, as long as they aren’t a liability otherwise.

Maxim Lapierre was a liability in almost every aspect of the game in the regular season. But, as we’ve seen over the past five years, sometimes the regular season doesn’t really provide much indication as to how an individual or team will perform in the playoffs.

If Lapierre can continue to perform the way he has in game 1 and 2, I will gladly eat crow having called him a weak link in an article found here. Oh yeah, and as you’ll find in that article, Brandon Sutter took some heat from me for his poor possession and defensive game. I’m perfectly okay with him proving me wrong as well.

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