Ranking the 5 Best Power-Play Units in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IMay 11, 2013

Ranking the 5 Best Power-Play Units in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs

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    The cliche is that special teams becomes even more important in the playoffs, when games are more physical and space is harder to come by on the ice.

    For teams that want to win playoff hockey games, the power play becomes an even more vital weapon.

    With that in mind, here is a look at the top five power-play units in the Stanley Cup playoffs (if your team has been eliminated, it will not be on this list).

    Rankings are based on a combination of production so far in the postseason and talent level.

    Feel free to point out a team you feel should have been included in this list in the comments below. Be sure to explain why, and let us know which team it should replace in the following top five.

5. Ottawa Senators

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    The Senators eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in five games, and part of the reason was their success with the man advantage.

    Ottawa scored six power-play goals in 25 chances over five games.

    Having a healthy Erik Karlsson certainly helps the Sens' power-play unit. He can combine with experienced defenseman Sergei Gonchar to form a strong duo on the points.

    Up front, Kyle Turris, Milan Michalek and captain Daniel Alfredsson make up the top unit.

    While Alfredsson's scoring pace hasn't matched up to his career averages, he has done very well when the Senators have been on the power play. In the playoffs, he has a pair of goals and an assist in the opening round for the Senators.

    Cory Conacher, Jakob Silfverberg and Jean-Gabriel Pageau have also been productive as a second unit when given ice time.

    After upsetting the No. 2 seed in Round 1, the Senators will again face one of the highest seeds in the Eastern Conference in Round 2. Ottawa's power play will have to remain productive if it hopes to keep winning this spring.

4. Detroit Red Wings

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    The Red Wings are 5-of-20 on the power play so far, and their play with the man advantage has helped keep them alive through five games against the Ducks.

    Detroit has a lot of veterans on their top power-play unit. Nicklas Kronwall and Jakub Kindl are on the blue line, while the forward line includes Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.

    Franzen leads the way for the Red Wings with three power-play tallies thus far, which ties him for the league lead.

    Gustav Nyquist and Daniel Clearly have also pitched in on the second unit.

    The Red Wings are struggling with consistency, so having a strong power play is key to their ability to stay alive in this year's playoffs.

3. Anaheim Ducks

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    The Anaheim Ducks are 6-of-21 on the power play thus far in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Anaheim features some talented and established goal scorers on its top unit, including Cam Fowler, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.

    Add a second unit that includes Nick Bonino and veteran playmaker Saku Koivu, and you can see why Anaheim thrives with the extra man.

    It's Bonino leading the way for the Ducks with two power-play goals, while Francois Beauchemin, who adds experience and depth on the blue line, has two power-play assists.

    The Ducks are in a tough battle with the Red Wings in the opening round and will need a strong power-play performance to win this series and advance deep into the playoffs.

2. San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks were the only team to sweep their first-round playoff series, and the power play was a big reason for their success.

    The Sharks went 7-of-24, an impressive 29.2 percent with the man advantage in just four games.

    Logan Couture led the way with three goals and three assists on the power play, meaning he was involved in six of the team's seven goals while it had the extra man.

    Joe Pavelski has three goals and two points, and "Jumbo" Joe Thornton has four helpers.

    There is plenty of talent on the Sharks' power-play unit. Veterans like defenseman Dan Boyle and forwards like Patrick Marleau have plenty of playoff experience and thrive on the power play.

    After pulling the upset in Round 1, the Sharks will face one of the top seeds in the second round and will need to continue their high production on the power play if they hope to win another series.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    While the New York Islanders have surprised a lot of people by playing the Pittsburgh Penguins tough in their opening-round series, the biggest reason Pittsburgh is one game away from winning the series is the result of its power play.

    The Penguins are 7-of-20, a 35 percent success rate. In the three games won, they are 5-of-11, and two of their three game-winning goals have come on the power play.

    The depth and talent the Penguins have is astounding. Kris Letang and Chris Kunitz each have two power-play goals, but the Pens can add Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Paul Martin, who all see significant time when Pittsburgh has the extra skater.

    The Penguins currently possess the deepest and most dangerous power play in the NHL playoffs. It has not only helped them overcome inconsistent goaltending and team defense, but it has them on the verge of advancing to the second round of this year's playoffs.