As we step closer to the most exciting two months of hockey, it’s time we look at the Power Rankings.
This time we’re not talking about the individual players or even the teams as a whole.
No, this time we’re giving the men behind the bench a nod for their hard work throughout the season and, of course, the treacherous road ahead.
Laviolette has a mountain to climb ahead of him.
He is no stranger to winning, as he took the Carolina Hurricanes to the Cup in 2006, however, he's dealing with a team plagued with monumental injuries and setbacks that may be difficult to overcome.
In addition to finding the right combination to overtake the New Jersey Devils, it sounds like he might have more to deal with as a mediator in a torn locker room. The Flyers will be relaying heavily on their coach to guide them through this task both on and off the ice.
In Martin's first season behind the bench of the Montreal Canadiens there is really only one option available: win.
Montreal is a team with such a rich history. However, it has been more than 15 seasons since they've had any success at all.
Martin will have a hard time with his small lineup group going forward, especially if the team makes it to the Cup finals. The Western Conference is a beast in terms of size and physicality and might just be too much for this undersized group.
However, first up is the biggest battle of all, as the Canadiens must make it past the Washington Capitals.
Martin has never played a game in the NHL and may be unable to relay the necessary emotions and passions needed to inspire a team towards Stanley Cup playoff success.
Barry Trotz has brought the Nashville Predators to the postseason quite regularly over the past few years. Even though they've yet to move past the first round, Trotz has managed to keep his team a quality contender regardless of its lack of superstars.
The franchise has faith in Trotz, as he's the only man to have coached the Predators.
His eagerness to see the second round of action must inspire his team to outlast a youthful Chicago Blackhawks squad.
With plenty of playoff experience under his belt, it is time to see if he's learned anything from his previous early exits. To start with, he may consider paying more attention to his special teams.
No thanks to injuries that have hung over the heads of the Boston Burins this season, they've somehow managed to clinch a spot in the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Last season's Jack Adams Award winner, Julien will have a heavy task ahead of him as he tries to keep a depleted lineup fresh and motivated to take on the top teams in the east to be considered a viable contender for the Cup.
Julien will have to get creative with several positions, but one thing he's definitely got figured out is that starting goaltender Tuukka Rask may be their ticket to the finals.
A rookie coach for a team of rookies.
In his first season as an NHL coach, Sacco took the Colorado Avalanche to the playoffs. In a season that started off hotter than many expected, the Avalanche, employing many young players, are finding their footing in the postseason after having a terrible 2008-09 season.
While Sacco's coached the team through an unexpected winning season, now is do-or-die for his group, as the Avs have a heavy opponent to start things off.
Can the underrated and surprising Avalanche disappoint the San Jose Sharks in the first round?
The eighth seed has done it before.
Clouston is a coach with a work ethic that is hard, pressing and often overpowering.
His drill sergeant ways have proved to be a turning point for the Ottawa Senators. Clouston has focused more on the team's attacking strengths and has allowed for a great improvement as the Senators head to the postseason for the first time since losing to Anaheim in the Cup finals in 2007 and their quick departure in 2008, when they lost in the first round in four straight games.
In Clouston's first full season with the team since signing on in the middle of the 2008-09 season, Ottawa had a stellar season that many were not expecting after the drama involving the trade demands of Dany Heatly prior to the beginning of the year.
It is possible that Clouston's overpowering ways can drive the focus home, something that has definitely been beneficial for Ottawa this season.
Thanks to a few seasons of high draft picks, the Los Angeles Kings are flourishing with some young talent and some wisely selected veteran presence.
Much consideration must be given to Murray, who in his second season with the team has managed to bring the Kings from the bottom of the Pacific Division to their first trip to the postseason since 2002.
The Kings aren't as hot as they started the season, or during their winning streak earlier this year, but who's to say they won't discover that same ambition just in time to outplay Vancouver in the first round.
Murray will have to look to veteran Ryan Smyth to guide many players through their first postseason.
Still looking to bring an NHL team past the second round, Alain Vigneault might have that opportunity this season with the Vancouver Canucks.
The 'Nucks have had a stellar season at home and with a home ice advantage in the first round, they may have the opportunity to battle it out in the conference finals for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
Goaltending may be an issue as Roberto Luongo has been shaky recently. However, if Vigneault lets his wonder twins do their job, the Canucks will have little trouble taking care of Los Angeles in the first round.
Looking to return the Sabres to the playoff-caliber team of the conference finals three years ago, Ruff has once again established his team as a playoff threat.
A vocally expressive coach, Ruff has found a successful medium to bring his team to the forefront.
The Sabres will need to find their footing behind a potentially worn down goaltender in Ryan Miller, who hasn’t had the rest that many of his teammates were given during that two-week Olympic break.
Ruff's "tuff love" might wear on the team as the playoffs take shape, or it might just be what the players need to inspire them to the finals.
In just his second season as coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and his first full season behind the bench, Bylsma has a huge weight on his shoulders.
Bylsma was definitely credited with turning the team around last season when it began to struggle, and has managed to pull the Penguins through difficult times this year despite key injuries and the occasional slump.
However, this season will prove to be his most difficult as he has to find a way to keep a championship squad fired up and prepared for the grueling playoff push and a chance to repeat. He's proven his worth to his team; will he be able to accomplish this task again? More importantly, will it be enough for this team to repeat the feat?
Once again the Sharks find themselves atop the standings in the Western Conference. And, once again, NHL fans are wondering if they are going to make it far enough in the postseason for it to matter.
McLellan can definitely take his star-studded team to a promising playoff run. McLellan will have a daunting challenge in keeping his team's stellar play on the forefront as the Sharks have begun their postseason slip a little earlier this season.
His past experience comes from a stint in Detroit as an assistant coach behind Mike Babcock, and perhaps looking to that experience can propel his team further than it's been in recent years.
San Jose has a full drawer of tools at its disposal; McLellan just has to figure out how to use them to their fullest over the course of the next two months.
And how to keep Joe Thornton from realizing that it’s April.
Quenneville is just one of many coaches to be blessed with a young and exceptionally talented roster heading into the playoffs.
In his first season with Chicago, he brought the Blackhawks back to the postseason for just the second time since the 1996-97 season. Last year the Hawks were eliminated in the Western Conference finals, and this year they're hungry for more.
Quenneville will be hard pressed to take his young team to the Stanley Cup finals, as Chicago has been without the holy grail since 1961.
Can he count on a veteran player like Marian Hossa to guide youngsters Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the postseason?
No matter what, keeping a potentially reckless Chicago squad under control will be his first line of business.
Two years removed from winning the Jack Adams Award for the coach of the year, Boudreau has both one of the easiest and most complicated coaching jobs in the NHL.
Finding the balance between coaching players like Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin and allowing those players to dominate the game is a struggle in itself.
While Boudreau has definitely found a way to turn Washington into a successful team, does he have the power and ability to keep his All-Star players focused as they head towards the holy grail as undoubtedly one of the favorites?
In fact, if Boudreau is smart, letting the Caps roll with the momentum they've created might be the best coaching move of his career.
As Lemaire returns to familiar ground with the New Jersey Devils, so does his familiar defensive style of play. It has worked well for the team as the Devils sit on top of the Atlantic Division and head into the playoffs allowing the fewest goals of any team this season.
The question is are they able to stop offensively stacked powerhouses like the Washington Capitals in the East? I suppose it is a positive that those teams sit No. 1 and No. 2 in the NHL.
After struggling for the past eight season with the Minnesota Wild, Lemaire returns to the success he was once accustomed to with the New Jersey Devils.
Get ready for some first round “trap."
It almost seems unfair to give any credit to Babcock when he has a roster with Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom, and Henrik Zetterberg (as if the talent list ends there).
Over the course of the season, the Red Wings have suffered through injuries and yet they’ve managed to find the fire at the right time once again.
Detroit has pulled out another 100-plus-point season, and the steady coaching of Babcock is likely the reason.
If previous achievements are any indication, Babcock has led the Wings to the Cup in 2008, the finals in 2009, and an All-Star team of Canadians to a gold medal in the 2010 Olympics. I think he’s got the “winning” part covered.
It's hard to determine who gets the credit for what has happened in Phoenix, but one thing is undeniable: Phoenix is good. No, Phoenix is phenomenal, and with few big names on the roster.
Returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2001-2002 and clinching its first 100-point season in franchise history is something that goes beyond stellar goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov and beyond the tenure of captain Shane Doan.
Tippett joined the franchise when things were at their worst. A team in peril, no one knowing where they were going to be playing their future games, not to mention, losing a coach who stepped aside moments before the first puck drop of the season.
Somehow Tippett was able to settle the team and turn it into a powerhouse in the Pacific division and a real candidate for winning the Stanley Cup.
Phoenix has come a long way from the early predictions that it wouldn't even crack the top 10 in the Western Conference, and much credit must be given to the coach.