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Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings

by Photo of Gil Santos

Ranking the eight remaining teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings

The dust has settled from an epic first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and eight teams are left standing in the chase for the coveted Lord Stanley's Cup. Here is how we see the remaining teams stacking up heading into the Conference Semifinals.

1) Boston Bruins

In a record-setting round of multi-goal comebacks, the Bruins proved to be the only team capable of holding a lead. They were dominant in their series over five games with the Detroit Red Wings. The Bruins only trailed twice in the series and outscored Detroit 14-5. They were balanced offensively as they have been all season. Ten Bruins found the back of the net. Last year's playoff stars, Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug, paced the Bruins in points with five points each. Tukka Rask is already in postseason form, posting a ridiculous 1.16 goals against average and a gaudy .961 save percentage. The Bruins were the heavy favorites to come out of the East and they have done nothing to disprove that.  

2) Chicago Blackhawks

Things looked scary for a moment for the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. They went down 2-0 early to the St. Louis Blues after blowing two late third period leads and lost both games in overtime. But they showed their championship pedigree and overcame the deficit to eliminate their rivals in six games. As the series went on, the Blackhawks got better and so did their top forwards. After getting just one goal in the first two games between Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp, they all started producing at the same time. Kane scored two goals and the overtime winner in Game 4. Toews tallied three in the final four games while Hossa and Sharp broke through in Game 5 and 6 respectively. After a shaky first two games, the Blackhawks look primed to defend their title. 

3) Los Angeles Kings

The Kings made history last night, becoming the fourth NHL team and the fifth North American squad to come back from a 3-0 series hole. Los Angeles looked slow and were uncharacteristically terrible defensively in the first three games, allowing the San Jose Sharks to easily penetrate through the neutral zone and score a plethora goals on the rush. Also, Jonathan Quick didn't look like himself at all, posting a 5.78 GAA and .852 save percentage. But as a veteran team that has won the Stanley Cup before in 2012, they never gave up and made the right adjustments to stun a mentally fragile Sharks team. The Kings got back to their heavy forechecking game and played much better defensively. Their best players showed up, especially Anze Kopitar, who scored four goals in the last three games. And let's not forget Justin Williams, who always seems to play at a much higher level in the playoffs. Williams tallied four goals as well. This comeback should give the Kings loads of confidence heading into the next round and they are probably the team no one wants to face. 

4) Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens were the lone team to sweep their opponents in the first round. Montreal handily took out the shorthanded Tampa Bay Lightning and got scoring from an unexpected player. Rene Bourque came out of nowhere and tallied up three goals for the Habs, including two in Game 2. If you thought the Bruins were balanced offensively in the first round, the Habs were even more so. Only two of their 18 players did not record a point against the Lightning. Also, 10 Canadiens found the back of the net at least once in the series. Netminder Carey Price looked a bit shaky, but I expect him to be much better in the second round. The Bruins/Canadiens series is going to be incredible.

5) Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks are finally in the second round for the first time since 2009. They received all they could handle from the young Dallas Stars. The Stars almost pushed them into a do-or-die Game 7 situation, but the heroics of Devante Smith-Pelly and Nick Bonino bailed them out in Game 6. To no one's surprise, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry led the way on offense, but they got plenty of help from their teammates. Besides Getzlaf and Perry, 10 Ducks' players recorded at least a goal in the series. Most notably, Game 6 hero Bonino was tied with Getzlaf in terms of goals with three. Also, Smith-Pelly and Perreault each have two tallies of their own. They'll need that scoring depth if they want make a deep playoff run. They also need head coach Bruce Boudreau to figure out who his starting goaltender is.

6) Pittsburgh Penguins

Like the Ducks, the Penguins were pushed to the limit in their first round series by a youthful team. But their experience and overall talent help them prevail over the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games. Despite having that playoff pedigree, the Penguins could not hold a lead. For the first five games of the series, the team that scored first usually ended up losing. Fortunately, the Penguins broke that cycle in the elimination game, though it was tense at the end. While Sidney Crosby was held scoreless for the series, their secondary players came through for the Pens, especially Brandon Sutter. He contributed a trio of goals and two assists. The goaltending situation is still a bit suspect with Marc-Andre Fleury looking very inconsistent. 

7) New York Rangers

While the Rangers are ranked as technically the second-worst team left in the playoffs, the gap between them and the Canadiens isn't very wide. The Blue Shirts needed seven games to defeat their division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, but it was clear they were the better team. Martin St. Louis has finally found his game, pacing the team in points alongside Brad Richards with six. Also, Henrik Lundqvist was strong between the pipes for the most part. While Rick Nash has yet to score his first goal of the postseason, he played well and contributed in other ways like on the penalty kill. 

8) Minnesota Wild

An unlikely hero, Nino Niederretier, came up huge for the Wild, scoring two goals, including the series-clincher in their stunning victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Wild remain undefeated in Game 7's and are now in their second Conference Semi-Finals in franchise history. While I commend them for pulling out the upset, the Avs were clearly the weakest of the top-seeds. Also, their goaltending situation looks to be in shambles. Darcy Kuemper left last night's game with an injury, which leaves Illya Bryzgalov, who was benched early in the series, as the default starter. 

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