2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Baggage from Round 1 Affecting Each NHL Team in Round 2 of 2014 Playoffs

Carol SchramFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2014

Baggage from Round 1 Affecting Each NHL Team in Round 2 of 2014 Playoffs

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The four-round format of the Stanley Cup playoffs makes it one of the most grueling championships to win in all of professional sports.

    Already, the eight teams that have advanced to the second round are winners. In one form or another, each squad dispatched its first-round opponent and has become part of the elite group on the quest for the Cup.

    But every win has a cost, and some are higher than others.

    Whether it's a key injury, a situation or a star player who has been underperforming, here's a look at the baggage with the biggest impact that each playoff team has carried into the second round—and how those teams are coping. 

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Fading Flower

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    USA TODAY Sports

    What's the Round 1 Issue?

    The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to defeat their first-round opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets, in six games, but it wasn't always pretty. Late-game collapses and questionable goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury left fans wondering, once again, if the Penguins have what it takes to channel 2009 and get back to winning a Stanley Cup.

     

    How It Affects Round 2 

    So far, not too much. Defensive lapses were the main reason for Pittsburgh's loss in Game 1. For the next two games, Fleury was perfect. 

    With Fleury's history of sudden playoff breakdowns, Penguins fans won't rest easy until the Stanley Cup is secure. For now, it looks like their goalie's in the zone.

New York Rangers: The "Stupid Schedule"

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    USA TODAY Sports

    What's the Round 1 Issue?

    The New York Rangers needed seven games to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in their first-round series, which capped off with back-to-back games in the Big Apple, then in Philly.

    Scheduling issues at Madison Square Garden dealt the Rangers another back-to-back, with travel in Round 2, between Games 2 and 3. That meant a tough run of five playoff games in seven nights—no easy task.

     

    How It Affects Round 2 

    Fatigue could be part of the reason why the Rangers were shut out in Games 2 and 3 of their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, where they're now trailing 2-1.

    But as Jason Kay of The Hockey News points out, when Rangers coach Alain Vigneault offered up his quote about the "stupid" schedule after his team's Game 3 loss, he gave his team an excuse for losing. That's not a good mindset during the hockey playoffs.

    When the Rangers return to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday for Game 4, they'll need to show not only that they're rested, but they're also willing to give what it takes to succeed in the postseason.

Boston Bruins: What's Up with Krejci?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    What's the Round 1 Issue?

    David Krejci has been the scoring engine that quietly drives the Boston Bruins' offense. On a line with Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic, Krejci led his team with 69 points in 2013-14. He also led Boston's playoff point scoring during the 2013 playoffs and when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011.

    This year, Krejci's linemates are producing, but he is not. Through eight playoff games, he has just three assists and is a minus-three.

     

    How It Affects Round 2 

    As Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com points out, Krejci has drawn some tough matchups in these playoffs—first against Pavel Datsyuk, then Tomas Plekanec. Still, one point in three games against Montreal is not up to the usual standards of a man who has led the playoffs in point scoring for two of the past three seasons.

    Going into Game 3, a 4-2 loss in Montreal, Krejci wasn't worried.

    "I feel great," he told Haggerty. "I feel like I've been skating well and controlling the game for the most part. The puck isn't going in the net for me, but as long as my lineys are hot – or my teammates – it's all good."

    Both of the Bruins' losses so far against Montreal have been by two goals or fewer. If the Habs can hang on to win the series over the favored Bruins, Krejci's lack of production will come under serious scrutiny.

Montreal Canadiens: Max Can't Score

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    Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

    What's the Round 1 Issue?

    Max Pacioretty was the Montreal Canadiens' leading goal scorer in the regular season, but is underperforming in the playoffs, again. His first-ever postseason tally was the series-winner in Game 4 of Round 1 against Tampa Bay, but it's also his only goal of the playoffs.

     

    How It Affects Round 2 

    The Canadiens have been successful with contributions from all over the ice from players such as defenseman P.K. Subban, journeyman Rene Bourque and grinder Dale Weise.

    If Pacioretty doesn't start chipping in soon, his lack of offense will become an issue as Montreal progresses deeper into the postseason.

Chicago Blackhawks: Seabrook Returns from Suspension

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    What's the Round 1 Issue?

    Late in Game 2 of the Chicago Blackhawks' first-round series against the St. Louis Blues, Brent Seabrook ran Blues captain David Backes into the end boards, earning a major for charging and a three-game suspension—his first in the NHL.

     

    How It Affects Round 2 

    Though the Blackhawks blew their Game 2 lead and fell behind 2-0 in the series, they survived without Seabrook. Chicago won four straight to beat the Blues and move on to Round 2. 

    When he does play, Seabrook is typically paired with Duncan Keith. He's third in ice time for Chicago in the playoffs, averaging over 24 minutes a game.

    While Seabrook's return was a welcome addition in Game 6 of the Blues series and he started well against the Wild, he was one of many Blackhawks to go minus-two in Chicago's 4-0 loss to Minnesota in Game 3. The 'Hawks will need Seabrook to suck up big minutes and play his best hockey if they hope to advance past the Wild.

Minnesota Wild: Matt Cooke Returns from Suspension

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images

    What's the Round 1 Issue?

    Perennial problem child Matt Cooke was suspended for seven games after his knee-on-knee hit against Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of the Minnesota Wild's first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche.

    Though his clean record over the past couple of years spared him "serial-offender" status, Cooke's past history of questionable hits brought out the usual cries of outrage, such as this one from Eric Duhatschek from The Globe and Mail.

     

    How It Affects Round 2 

    He's baaaack! Well...almost. Cooke will return to the Minnesota lineup on Friday for Game 4, with his team in a 2-1 hole against the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Cooke's history means that teams always need to be on their guard. Additionally, he's a tenacious checker and hitter who could have an impact against a skilled Chicago team. He'll also be very well-rested after two weeks off the ice.

Anaheim Ducks: Stephane Robidas' Broken Leg

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    What's the Round 1 Issue?

    After Game 1 of the Anaheim Ducks' first-round series against the Dallas Stars, it looked like the puck that hit Ryan Getzlaf's face would be a turning point that would dictate Anaheim's playoff success.

    To his credit, Getzlaf has played through the injury, missing just one game and being the Ducks' best player on most nights. It appears they'll be more profoundly affected by the loss of veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas, who suffered a broken leg in Game 3 against Dallas.

     

    How It Affects Round 2 

    Robidas was acquired at the trade deadline to add some defensive depth to an Anaheim team that was thin all year after Sheldon Souray missed the season due to wrist surgery.

    Mark Fistric has stepped into Robidas' lineup spot and provides a physical presence, but he is not nearly as skilled or as versatile. As a result, the team's top pairs are being asked to make greater contributions, with a trickle-down effect that's hampering their efforts to get past the Los Angeles Kings.

Los Angeles Kings: Mike Richards Needs to Step Up

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    USA TODAY Sports

    What's the Round 1 Issue?

    When the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, Mike Richards was a key two-way center, with 15 points in 20 games. 

    The Kings aren't absorbing a cap hit of $5.75 million a season to see Richards sitting between Dwight King and Robyn Regehr on the playoff point-scoring list. With six more years remaining on his rich pre-lockout contract, Richards has just two assists so far in these playoffs.

     

    How It Affects Round 2 

    Through two games against the Anaheim Ducks, Richards has one assist and is a plus-one, as his team has built a 2-0 series lead. Corey Masisak of NHL.com articulates how Richards is getting lots of shots and contributing off the scoresheet, but more will be expected as the Kings roll through the playoffs.

     

    All stats courtesy of NHL.com, current through games on Tuesday, May 6. Salary information from CapGeek.com.

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