Second-Round Stanley Cup Playoff Team Swag Rankings

Franklin Steele@FranklinSteeleAnalyst IIMay 16, 2013

Second-Round Stanley Cup Playoff Team Swag Rankings

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    The 2013 NHL playoffs have moved into the second round and there are eight teams remaining.

    Looking at the eight squads that survived the first round, each one has a few reasons to possess some "swag"for all intents and purposes just a five-year-old, Lil' Wayne-approved way to say "confidence."

    Which teams have a reason to be a little more confident based on their first-round performance? Which teams put together a few special nights in the first round that could propel them to new heights in the second round?

    This isn't about being cool or keeping up appearances. One can probably count the number of hockey players who wear flat-bill caps and sunglasses while indoors on one hand.

    This is about which teams are taking to the ice with a boatload of confidence and which ones may have a reason or two to be wary.

8.New York Rangers

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    The New York Rangers weren't bad in the first round against the Washington Capitals.

    Ryan McDonagh became Alex Ovechkin's shadow and shut him down completely after Game 2. Even with Ovie as a non-factor on the scoresheet, the Rangers still were taken to a Game 7 and may not still be around if not for the goaltending heroics of Henrik Lundqvist.

    The thing is, the back-to-back shutouts to close out the Caps was business as usual for the Vezina Trophy nominee.

    Lundqvist will continue to be outstanding. The reasons for New York's low ranking here are Rick Nash and Brad Richards. At some juncture, they'll need to step up and the Rangers are living on borrowed time until they start to produce points.

7. San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks have several reasons to be confident after dispatching the Vancouver Canucks in the only sweep of the first round where Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were all outstanding.

    They trounced Vancouver's defense and victimized both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider in net en route to winning all four games.

    So why the lower ranking?

    It all comes down to who the Sharks are playing, and the L.A. Kings appear to be in kill mode again. They've won five straight now, including shutting out San Jose in Game 1, and are going to be very difficult to get rid of in the second round.

    This series isn't going to come down to confidence, it's going to come down to will. L.A. has shown that it tends to come up with plenty of will to win when the time comes.

6. Ottawa Senators

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    The Ottawa Senators annihilated the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. No matter how you try and cut it, the wheels fell off of the Habs in Game 3 and Ottawa never looked back.

    The Senators out-hit, out-hustled, out-scored and out-fought Montreal in a tough series that boiled over in a hurry after a nasty Game 1. Regardless of whether or not Jason Spezza is able to make his return, this is am Ottawa team that has a lot to be confident about moving forward.

    Sure, they have run into the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins next, but they don't have to look very far for a formula to hang with the mighty Pens. The New York Islanders were able to expose some holes in Pittsburgh's armor.

    If Ottawa can start hitting those weak spots, this could be a better series than people realize.

    The Pens won Game 1, but as in the first round, that doesn't magically lead to a sweep. Craig Anderson is capable of outplaying Tomas Vokoun and if he does, then this one could get interesting.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    It's still too early to tell how the Pittsburgh Penguins will respond to a mild scare against the New York Islanders in Round 1.

    Pittsburgh goalie Marc Andre-Fleury fell apart before our very eyes as the Penguins' defense in front of him made some uncharacteristic errors. They managed to pull it together and got rid of the pesky Islanders in six games.

    The Ottawa Senators now stand between Pittsburgh and the Eastern Conference Finals.

    If the Pens had dominated New York the way they were "supposed to", then the confidence might be a little higher. They are likely in more of a short reevaluation and reset period, looking in the mirror (as it were) and making sure their heads are in the right places going forward.

    Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the veteran core have been outstanding. If they don't suffer any relapses, the Pens could be flying high in the coming weeks.

4. Detroit Red Wings

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    Few pundits gave the Detroit Red Wings a chance against the Anaheim Ducks—a bigger and arguably faster team that was among the best in the NHL in 2013.

    Even fewer people are giving the Wings a chance against the Chicago Blackhawks, but that doesn't change the fact that Detroit has plenty to feel good about in the second round.

    Jimmy Howard has been outstanding in goal, waiving his glove around after stops like he's Patrick Roy or something. There's plenty of confidence there.

    Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have been special (there's no other word for it), while the "kid line" of Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson have been dangerous.

    Still, the series with the Ducks took a lot of energy from the Wings. While it wasn't a nasty set of games, it was a hard-fought battle with several overtimes and a lot of hitting. What does Detroit have left in the tank for a hungry Chicago team?

    The Wings looked flat in Game 1 (that's putting it nicely) but have two days to rest up before Game 2 on Saturday.

3. Los Angeles Kings

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    After dropping Games 1 and 2 to the St. Louis Blues, the L.A. Kings have ripped off five straight wins and appear to be in the same gear that allowed them to make a joke out of the 2012 NHL playoffs.

    Jonathan Quick has been nothing short of awe-inspiring, and he is in the process of cementing himself as the best big game goaltender in the NHL. He's given up more than two goals on just one occasion and gives the Kings a chance to win on their worst night.

    L.A. wasn't at its best in Game 1 against a feisty San Jose Sharks team, but still managed a 2-0 shutout victory. 

    You have to scroll down all the way to 20th to find the first Kings' scorer that shows up among the leading playoff point producers (Mike Richards with seven) but that somehow doesn't seem to matter for L.A. The offense is by committee and the defense is as good as it needs to be in front of Quick.

    The recipe for success this year is the same as it was last year, and the results seem to be the same so far.

2. Chicago Blackhawks

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    The Chicago Blackhawks and their insanely aggressive puck pursuit game is alive and well in the playoffs.

    Game 1 against the Detroit Red Wings looked eerily similar to anyone who checked out the 'Hawks take on the Minnesota Wild in Round 1.

    The Blackhawks played with two forecheckers in deep (sometimes both behind the goal line in the offensive zone) and with the defenders always looking to pinch down to help out, create outnumbering situations or keep the puck in the offensive zone.

    This system can lead to some odd-man rushes going the other way, but Chicago's players are so quick and smart with the puck that it rarely happens. As scary good as the Blackhawks were at the start of the 2013 season, they may be even more so now.

    This is a team at the top of its game. Chicago is playing with a ton of confidence and doesn't seem aware that it could actually lose a game.

    That isn't an option for Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews or Patrick Sharp.

1. Boston Bruins

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    Who else could it be?

    After becoming the first team in 119 years to overcome a three-goal deficit in the third period of a Game 7, is there anything that the Boston Bruins don't think that they can do as a team?

    Few things can pull a group together like a historic victory—a victory that appeared impossible at that.

    Does Boston need help from its second line? Sure, but this is a team that is ready to take on the world after taking on several generations worth of "they'll never come back from that."

    The Bruins had fans piling back into TD Garden after spotting the (poor) Toronto Maple Leafs a three-goal lead in the third period.

    If that doesn't get the Bruins going, nothing will. This team has a lot to play for in the postseason and a lot of confidence to boot.

    Zdeno Chara and the Bruins are the most confident group in the league right now as they look to continue the momentum against the New York Rangers.