NHL Power Rankings: All Teams Ranked During the 2nd Round of the 2020 Playoffs

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2020

NHL Power Rankings: All Teams Ranked During the 2nd Round of the 2020 Playoffs

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    Feels a little more normal now, eh?

    Even without fans in the buildings, goalies have still been pulled, teeth have still been dislodged and multi-overtime games have still driven passionate fans and seasoned announcers to the point of incredulity.

    And we're only halfway done.

    Indeed, with the completion of the last few "first-round" playoff series late last week, the NHL postseason pack has been reduced to an elite eight who will battle it out in best-of-seven series to further whittle the surviving field to four teams, then two teams and then...drum roll, please...one new Stanley Cup champion.

    In case you missed it, the St. Louis Blues won't be raising another banner after an inglorious six-game erasure by the Vancouver Canucks.

    The transition from eight to four will occur in the Canadian hubs before a wholesale shift to Edmonton, Alberta, for the Eastern and Western Conference championship series and the Stanley Cup Final.

    The 23 clubs on the outside looking in face a prolonged offseason but get an earlier start on prepping for the 2020 NHL draft, which follows the postseason.

    Read on to see where your favorite club sits in our pre-second round NHL power rankings, which are based on regular-season, qualifying- and first-round performance (as applicable) and recently noteworthy team news.

31-25: A Long Road Ahead

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    31. Detroit Red Wings (17-49-5, 39 points)

    It's a marathon, not a sprint, when it comes to improving a team that finished last out of 31. But that doesn't mean general manager Steve Yzerman won't at least try to make some short-term gains. His season-ending press conference including multiple references to the organization's young talent and a promise to explore what's out there in free agency—at least to a certain extent: "We're prepared to do anything we can in free agency, but it's not get a player at all cost. That's not the plan."

           

    30. Ottawa Senators (25-34-12, 62 points)

    The Senators are in an interesting situation heading into the draft, holding both the third and fifth overall picks. It's led to logical conjecture that they may be able to at least make the New York Rangers an offer for the No. 1 selection, work a deal with another team that has its eye on a specific player after No. 1 or package both picks in exchange for a quick injection of veteran talent. Elsewhere, a veteran goalie may be a target if the brass decides Anders Nilsson and Marcus Hogberg aren't ready for prime time.

              

    29. New Jersey Devils (28-29-12, 68 points)

    New head coach Lindy Ruff is a fan of offensive systems in which skilled defensemen are encouraged to jump in on rushes. The skidding fortunes of high-ticket trade acquisition P.K. Subban could be reversed with such a change in philosophy as he seeks to regain the form that made him a Norris Trophy winner with the Montreal Canadiens. "He's trying extremely hard," Ruff said. "And I think that he really fits in the way I'd like our team to play."

              

    28. Anaheim Ducks (29-33-9, 67 points)

    A lack of scoring punch and too many defensive lapses were chronic issues with the Ducks in 2019-20, but general manager Bob Murray has also sounded off about issues with accountability in the locker room under first-year head coach Dallas Eakins. The veteran executive, who placed himself behind the bench after firing Randy Carlyle in 2018-19, said his voice would be heard more often next season: "I didn't feel I could be around as much. I had to let Dallas and the crew [work]. ... In hindsight, that was a mistake."

               

    27. San Jose Sharks (29-36-5, 63 points)

    There's a good chance the Sharks will be closer to the middle of the pack, if not higher, by this time next year. If they can only stay healthy. They were well above .500 during rare stretches when Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane, Erik Karlsson and Radim Simek were all in the lineup, and the disaster that 2019-20 became without them on the ice has general manager Doug Wilson trawling for depth: "[This team needs to] come in and have that focus right out of the gate. Do we need to add some pieces? Sure we do."

             

    26. Buffalo Sabres (30-31-8, 68 points)

    They may not win games because of it, but the big news from the Sabres has been the announcement of a switch back to the royal blue jerseys that were a signature from the franchise's inception in 1970 through the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, new general manager Kevyn Adams has one front-and-center job, and that's to keep frustrated young star Jack Eichel happy and in Buffalo. "He is our franchise player; he is our captain," Adams said. "And it's really important he understands what we're trying to do here."

           

    25. Los Angeles Kings (29-35-6, 64 points)

    Their run of two Stanley Cups in three years is now more than half a decade in the rearview mirror, but it's not a reach to suggest the Kings are at least laying the foundation for another run toward the top of the league. Preseason rankings by The Athletic suggested Los Angeles had nine of the league's top 124 prospects, and the Kings will add another when they pick No. 2 behind the Rangers at the NHL draft in October. If you're buying stock in hockey teams, this is a good place to invest.

24-17: Reaching for the Middle

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    24. Montreal Canadiens (31-31-9, 71 points)

    Give Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin credit for being a glass-half-full optimist. Shortly after his team was eliminated from its first-round series with the Philadelphia Flyers, he was already giving full-throated endorsements to veterans Carey Price and Shea Weber as productive players and valuable locker-room presences. And looking forward, he was quick to point out Montreal has 10 picks in the first three rounds across the next two drafts, which provides leverage to make deals aimed at quick improvement. 

                      

    23. Chicago Blackhawks (32-30-8, 72 points)

    The Blackhawks schooled the Edmonton Oilers in a qualifying-round upset but were brought to earth against Vegas, winning just once against the Golden Knights. In the short term, the focus will shift to second-year head coach Jeremy Colliton after his team allowed the most scoring chances in the league during the regular season. "We have a lot of players who have a lot of offensive skills, and they want to make things happen to help the team win," general manager Stan Bowman said. "In the process of doing that, it's a bit of a double-edged sword."

                      

    22. Arizona Coyotes (33-29-8, 74 points)

    The optimism generated by a qualifying-round win over the Nashville Predators was quickly snuffed out by the powerful Colorado Avalanche, and the stench from repeat 7-1 losses in Games 4 and 5 is bound to linger awhile. The Coyotes are strapped for salary-cap room and talent, which is not a particularly good combination. Trying to cajole midseason acquisition Taylor Hall to stay in the southwest is a huge priority because a departure would make head coach Rick Tocchet's job of selling optimism next season daunting at best.

                     

    21. Florida Panthers (35-26-8, 78 points)

    Job No. 1 for the Panthers in the offseason is hiring a general manager to replace Dale Tallon, whose contract was not renewed after a season in which Florida finished 15th overall and was quickly bumped from the qualifying round by the New York Islanders. Also key to the team's rebound and the new general manager's long-term job security is a bounce-back from goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who was brought in on a seven-year deal only to stink the rink with a 3.23 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. 

                 

    20. Minnesota Wild (35-27-7, 77 points)

    It's a challenging offseason for first-year general manager Bill Guerin, who has an impatient owner and a team in perennial limbo of being good enough to challenge for playoff berths but not championships. He'll have to decide on franchise cornerstone Mikko Koivu, who's scored more points than any Wild player in history but has faded toward irrelevance. On the plus side, he may add Kirill Kaprizov, who will arrive from Russia with hype. "We're all hoping he comes in and just lights the world on fire," Guerin said.

                   

    19. Nashville Predators (35-26-8, 78 points)

    Head coach John Hynes is focusing on intangibles following a qualifying loss to Arizona, while general manager David Poile does the postseason dance with his own team's unrestricted free agents, Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund, and assesses the readiness of pipeline prospects Eeli Tolvanen, Rem Pitlick, Yakov Trenin, Alexandre Carrier and Jeremy Davies. That quintet helped Nashville's AHL team to that league's best record in 2019-20. Also out there is Philip Tomasino, a first-round pick from 2019 who scored 100 points in the OHL.

                        

    18. Columbus Blue Jackets (33-22-15, 81 points)

    The Blue Jackets are sound on the defensive side, but their lack of consistent scoring punch doomed them in a first-round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen has assets—depth at goaltender, NHL-caliber defensemen—he could use to engineer a deal that would bring in what's needed. But he says he'll be patient when it comes to changing the roster he's already got. "I'm going to go through every team that's a potential partner with us to see if there's something we can do to improve our team," he said.

                   

    17. Edmonton Oilers (37-25-9, 83 points)

    The Oilers came into the 2019-20 regular season in need of defensive help, depth scoring and goaltending. And even though they have the league's leading scorer in Leon Draisaitl, boast perhaps its best player in Connor McDavid and finished the truncated season with the ninth-most points in the league, they enter the 2020 offseason with precisely the same needs. Mending organizational fences with 2016 No. 4 pick Jesse Puljujarvi would be a huge step, and recent reports suggest he could be back for 2020-21.

16-9: A Step Away from Elite?

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    Petr David Josek/Associated Press

    16. Toronto Maple Leafs (36-25-9, 81 points)

    Team president Brendan Shanahan dumped general manager Lou Lamoriello in favor of Kyle Dubas two years ago, and in the three postseasons since he has watched the Maple Leafs fall consecutively further from Cup contention. Meanwhile, the exiled Lamoriello is in the front office of an Islanders team that's still playing. It's all part of an enigmatic puzzle for Toronto, which scored the third-most goals in the regular season but netted just 10 in five games against Columbus during a qualifying-round exit. This team should be better. Far better.

                 

    15. Winnipeg Jets (37-28-6, 80 points)

    The franchise is mourning the loss of its first true homegrown superstar, Dale Hawerchuk, who recently died of stomach cancer at age 57. Hawerchuk won the Calder Trophy and notched 100 points six times in nine seasons with the Jets. Meanwhile, it's rearrangement time for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff following the team's second straight early playoff exit—this time in four qualifying games against the Calgary Flames—after a run to the Western Conference Final in 2018. The Jets have 11 unrestricted and four restricted free agents.

                 

    14. Pittsburgh Penguins (40-23-6, 86 points)

    Any team that boasts the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who combined for 41 goals and 80 assists in 96 games, has to be considered better than average. But those two are suddenly 33 and 34, respectively, and the Penguins have been on the outside looking in since a stunning loss to 12th-seeded Montreal in the qualifying round. General manager Jim Rutherford did clean house on the coaching side, axing assistants Mark Recchi, Jacques Martin and Sergei Gonchar but saying head coach Mike Sullivan is safe.

                     

    13: Calgary Flames (36-27-7, 79 points)

    Losing three straight games after holding a 2-1 series lead surely sent the Flames into the offseason in a foul mood, and there's no shortage of vital questions now that it's arrived. Playoff goaltender Cam Talbot is a free agent, and established stars like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are on the perceived chopping block in connection with the inglorious postseason flameout. Both players are under contract for two more seasons, but they combined for zero even-strength goals against the Dallas Stars.

                  

    12: Carolina Hurricanes (38-25-5, 81 points)

    The Hurricanes had a solid season and won a qualifying-round series before falling in five to the Boston Bruins, so there's plenty to celebrate in Raleigh. But there's also a concern that the group as currently assembled, though skillful, lacks the sort of grit that's emblematic of consistently successful playoff teams. News & Observer columnist Luke Decock suggested, "When things got real, when it was time to put their bodies on the line, the Hurricanes cowered."

                     

    11. New York Rangers (37-28-5, 79 points)

    It's amazing how quickly the flight of a ping-pong ball in a vacuum tube can make an organization forget disappointment and focus on the future. That's certainly the case for the Rangers, who won the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes earlier in August when their logoed ball was pulled at the league's draft lottery event. Provided they go ahead and pick him, the 18-year-old will join a team loaded with young offensive talent and seemingly stocked in goal. Lafreniere scored 112 points in 52 junior games in 2019-20.

                 

    10. St. Louis Blues (42-19-10, 94 points)

    It's no surprise the Blues were frustrated following a six-game loss to the Vancouver Canucks that officially ended their reign as champions, but it's a tad shocking to find a self-proclaimed lack of effort as the reason for the downfall in a series that had been tied 2-2. Also, 2019 postseason hero Jordan Binnington's dizzying skid continued, as he finished 0-5 in the playoffs with an .851 save percentage. "We have to have jump in front of him," center Ryan O'Reilly said. "It's on us. It wasn't good enough. It's embarrassing."

                       

    9. Washington Capitals (41-20-8, 90 points)

    It didn't take long for the Capitals to clean house after they were whipped in five games by former head coach Barry Trotz and the surprising New York Islanders. Trotz left Washington upon failing to come to terms on a contract after their Stanley Cup win two years ago and was replaced by top assistant Todd Reirden. This time, it's Reirden who's gone after two straight first-round playoff ousters. "We have an experienced group," general manager Brian MacLellan said. "We need someone to come in and push some buttons on some players."

8-5: The Best of the Rest

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    8: New York Islanders (35-23-10, 80 points)

    How They Got Here

    Defeated Washington, 4-1, in first round

    What to Watch

    The Islanders won all three of their games against the top-seeded Flyers during the regular season, but the most recent was six months ago, and Philadelphia still wound up nine points past them in the standings. The stellar goaltending of Semyon Varlamov (1.67 goals-against average, .934 save percentage) will have to hold up for New York to have a real chance against counterpart Carter Hart and the Flyers. 

                

    7: Vancouver Canucks (36-27-6, 78 points)

    How They Got Here

    Defeated St. Louis, 4-2, in first round

    What to Watch

    Confidence shouldn't be a problem for a team that just jettisoned the defending Stanley Cup champions, so don't expect the Canucks to be too rattled by a matchup with the top-seeded Golden Knights, even after a chastening 5-0 defeat in Game 1. Rookie Quinn Hughes leads all first-year players with 10 playoff points, and the top forward line of Elias Pettersson with Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller has consistently outscored its counterparts. This is a live underdog to be sure.

                   

    6. Dallas Stars (37-24-8, 82 points)

    How They Got Here

    Defeated Calgary, 4-2, in first round

    What to Watch

    The Stars won the final three games against the Flames and came out flying against the Avalanche in their second-round opener on the way to a 5-3 win. Matching that opening-whistle intensity in Game 2 against a backup goaltender, Pavel Francouz, could give Dallas a commanding lead. Right winger Alexander Radulov had three points in Game 1 after scoring just three points in his first nine playoff contests. 

                 

    5. Boston Bruins (44-14-12, 100 points)

    How They Got Here

    Defeated Carolina, 4-1, in first round

    What to Watch

    The Bruins looked far more like a Presidents' Trophy winner in their five-game elimination of the Hurricanes after limping into the playoffs with a winless round-robin series. David Pastrnak returned from injury late in the series to reunite the Perfection Line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and the second line of Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Ondrej Kase is consistently generating chances.

4-1: The Rest of the Best

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    4. Colorado Avalanche (42-20-8, 92 points)

    How They Got Here

    Defeated Arizona, 4-1, in first round

    What to Watch

    The Avalanche came out sluggish and quickly found themselves behind the Stars en route to a Game 1 loss. More ominously, they will be without starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer after he suffered a lower-body injury and was removed after allowing three goals on 10 shots. Nathan MacKinnon is the best forward still in the playoffs, and he'll need to carry this team to keep things afloat.

              

    3. Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6, 92 points)

    How They Got Here

    Defeated Columbus, 4-1, in first round

    What to Watch

    The Lightning were on the short end against the Blue Jackets last spring, but they can consider that ghost exorcised. Eliminating the Bruins will be a more daunting task. Tampa Bay is talented and deep, though, and Brayden Point is playing Conn Smythe-level hockey in the absence of offensive leader Steven Stamkos. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been lights-out in the nets, which makes the Lightning difficult to beat.

                

    2. Vegas Golden Knights (39-24-8, 86 points)

    How They Got Here

    Defeated Chicago, 4-1, in first round

    What to Watch

    Vegas did everything it was supposed to do against the Blackhawks and continued to dominate five-on-five play at a league-best rate while playing defense well enough to surrender just 11 goals in five games. Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury are as good a tandem in goal as there is in the league, and this team is playing so well in every aspect that it's hard to see it losing. At least for now.

                 

    1. Philadelphia Flyers (41-21-7, 89 points)

    How They Got Here

    Defeated Montreal, 4-2, in first round

    What to Watch

    We called the Flyers the best team in hockey heading into the first round, and it's difficult to suggest they ought to lose a place after beating a plucky Canadiens team in six games. That said, this postseason run will still go as far as Carter Hart takes it, and there were some slight cracks in the aura against Montreal. Nevertheless, they should beat a hot goalie and the Islanders and take their chances in the final four.