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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013: Each 2nd-Round Team's Biggest Weakness

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystMay 17, 2013

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013: Each 2nd-Round Team's Biggest Weakness

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    Each of the eight squads left standing in the Stanley Cup playoffs have punched their tickets to conference-semifinal action for a variety of reasons. The remaining title contenders have plenty of positive attributes that have enabled them to advance into the postseason and survive a contentious first round.

    However, no team is without its faults. Some deficiencies may be more glaring than others, but you can identify an Achilles heel when analyzing every organization.

    Shortcomings can often be covered up with strong overall play but, in time, could ultimately derail championship ambitions. Here's a look at of the remaining playoff teams' crucial flaws.

Boston Bruins: Can't Keep the Heat off Tuukka Rask

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    Entering the postseason, you would've thought power-play proficiency would doom the Bruins. However, Boston has managed to improve in that department since finishing the regular season ranked 26th. 

    The team is currently implementing the best offensive attack we've seen from the Bruins all season, but they must find a way to make life easier on their young goaltender. Tuukka Rask, 26, faces more shots per game (33.6) than every netminder remaining in the playoffs except Henrik Lundqvist and Craig Anderson.

    Toronto peppered him with 95 shots during a two-game stretch in the first round. For the most part, he has held strong between the pipes, but Boston is playing with fire hoping an unproven goalie can continuously take on that kind of pressure for three more rounds.

Chicago : Need Superstars to Step Up

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    Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa have combined for 10 goals and 16 points, helping pave the way to a 5-1 record through six playoff games. A loaded lineup and deep rotation make Chicago a dangerous threat to win its second title in four years, but the team needs more production out of two dynamic standouts.

    Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews came up huge throughout the 2010 Stanley Cup championship run, but both have stumbled out of the gates this postseason when it comes to scoring goals. The star duo is scoreless in the 2013 playoffs and carry a combined rating of plus-four.

    Each player continues to provide leadership and has exemplary playoff experience, but they need to get going in the scoring department if the Blackhawks hope to be their best during this pivotal stretch.

Detroit Red Wings: Too Vulnerable on Defensive End

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    It's strange to see Detroit go to work in the postseason without the services of all-time-great defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom anchoring the blue line. At this point, Red Wings fans would do just about anything to get the franchise legend back for one more playoff go-round.

    Detroit surrenders the most goals per game among the NHL's final eight squads, and it isn't even close. The Red Wings have allowed an average of 3.12 goals through eight games. 

    Every other team remaining in the playoffs carries a goals-against average of less than 2.7 per game. It's a dangerous development for Detroit considering second-round opponent Chicago is tops in the category (1.33 goals against per game).

Los Angeles Kings: Road Magic Has Disappeared

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    Los Angeles became a road warrior during the 2012 postseason. The Kings entered the playoffs as a No. 8 seed and ultimately swept the first two road games against all four opponents, setting the tone for a remarkable Stanley Cup run.

    That attribute has immensely eroded in 2013. 

    Los Angeles was just 8-12-4 on the road during the regular season. The Kings dropped Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis before rallying to win four straight to eliminate the Blues.

    After opening the Western Conference semifinals with a pair of home wins over San Jose, Los Angeles will be tested again when it visits the Sharks for Games 3 and 4.

New York Rangers: Power-Play Woes Continue to Plague Team

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    There's no gentle way to put this: New York is atrocious on the man advantage.

    Through eight playoff games, the Rangers have capitalized on just six percent of power-play opportunities. John Tortorella's team managed to survive those struggles against Washington thanks in large part to goalie Henrik Lundqvist's back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7.

    New York opened its second-round series against Boston with another woeful performance on the power play (0-for-3) and ultimately lost in overtime.

Ottawa Senators: Craig Anderson Can't Catch His Breath

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    Craig Anderson takes on more shot attempts than any goalie remaining in the playoffs (35 per game). He played out of his mind against Montreal in first-round action, limiting the Canadiens to nine goals in five matchups.

    However, he now faces the intimidating offensive arsenal of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Eastern Conference's top seed tallied four goals against Ottawa in Game 1 of the second-round showdown, and accomplished the feat again in Game 2.

    Anderson has been exemplary since returning from an ankle injury in April, but you have to wonder how he'll hold up if the Senators can't find a way to slow down Sidney Crosby and company.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Need to Produce More Takeaways

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    Pittsburgh ranks among the league leaders in nearly every category but still tends to be careless with on-puck defense at times. The Penguins ranked 29th in takeaways during the regular season.

    Aside from a dominant Game 1 victory over the Islanders in the first round, the inexperienced New York squad was able to maintain possession with relative ease. That's not a good sign for a savvy veteran group like Pittsburgh.

    The Penguins managed four takeaways against Ottawa in the second-round opener. An improvement in this area would provide offensively potent Pittsburgh with an increased ability to close out contests.

San Jose Sharks: Can't Kill Power Plays

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    We saw the Sharks' penalty-killing unit lay an all-time stinker Thursday night in Los Angeles. San Jose surrendered a pair of power-play goals in a 22-second span with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, falling, 4-3, in heartbreaking fashion.

    It's the continuation of a troubling theme for the team. The Sharks rank 15th among all 16 playoff squads in killing opposing power plays, allowing a goal 29 percent of the time. 

    That simply isn't going to get it done in the postseason. Unless the Sharks can sharpen up this element, the team will have a short shelf life in the playoffs.

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