Ranking the best defensemen through Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs
With the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the books, theScore counts down the top five players of the postseason so far in all three positional groups. Players on eliminated teams are eligible for this list, as these rankings are explicitly based on cumulative performances from the first two rounds.
5. Cale Makar, Avalanche
The Vegas Golden Knights' heavy forecheck made life difficult for Makar at times, but in no way should the Avalanche's playoff defeat rest on his shoulders. Makar didn't drive play the same way he did in the regular season, but he was still as dynamic as any defenseman in the playoffs.
4. Victor Hedman, Lightning
Many will argue Hedman should be higher on this list thanks to his point total, but nine of his points have come with the man advantage. While he deserves credit for quarterbacking the Lightning's lethal power play, the fact the Bolts have been outscored 9-6 with Hedman on the ice at five-on-five prevents him from ranking higher.
3. Shea Theodore, Golden Knights
Theodore has blossomed into one of the game's elite blue-liners. Though he hasn't produced offensively at the same rate he did in the regular season, he's been excellent defensively this postseason, allowing just 1.46 expected goals against per 60 minutes, the fourth-best among qualified defensemen.
2. Charlie McAvoy, Bruins
Just because the Bruins were ousted in Round 2 doesn't mean we can't appreciate McAvoy's excellent postseason performance. He leads all defensemen in points, and his xGF% ranks sixth among qualified blue-liners. Boston outscored its opponents 12-6 with McAvoy on the ice at five-on-five.
1. Alex Pietrangelo, Golden Knights
After a subpar regular season by his standards, Pietrangelo has upped his game in the playoffs, showing why Vegas handed him a seven-year, $61.6-million contract in the offseason. He's been a rock on the back end, helping the Golden Knights slow down Colorado's dynamic offensive attack. He also scored the game-winner in Game 6 on Thursday as Vegas eliminated the favored Avalanche.