The next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is finally here. The first round was exciting but went mostly as expected. Will we see some upsets in this round? Let’s take a look at the matchups:
Central Division: Winnipeg Jets vs Nashville Predators
This is possibly a matchup of the two best teams in the league. They had the two best records in the regular season and are rated highly in every category. The Predators won the regular season series 3-1-1 but the total score was 22-20.
These teams are about as evenly matched as possible be but two factors give the Predators an edge:
Injuries: The Jets have a number of players that have missed games or are currently out.
Experience: The Predators went to the Stanley Cup Final last year while the Jets missed the playoffs the previous two seasons.
Prediction: Nashville in 7
Pacific Division: Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks
Another evenly matched series! Nobody expected the Knights to do so well in the regular season and they swept the LA Kings in the first round. The Sharks are the perennial playoff team but this year have added Evander Kane and lost Patrick Marleau. In the regular season, the Knights were 3-0-1 against the Sharks.
Two factors could determine this series:
Defense: The Sharks have the edge with their pair of Brent Burns and Paul Martin.
Goaltending: Do you think Marc-Andre Fleury can steal a series all by himself? I do! making 127 saves on 130 shots is almost perfect.
Prediction: Knights in 6
Atlantic Division: Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning had an easy time eliminating the New Jersey Devils in Round 1, while the Bruins had to go to 7 games to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Lightning are loaded, acquiring J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh at the trade deadline. The Bruins have one of the best lines in hockey with Bergeron-Marchand-Pastrnak.
Here are 2 factors that may decide this series:
Goaltending: What happened to Tuukka Rask? He was awful in the series against Toronto. Andrei Vasilevskiy was great against the Devils.
Fatigue: The Lightning had an easy time with their first round opponent and has had plenty of rest. The Bruins have only a couple days rest before playing again on Saturday.
Prediction: Lightning in 6
Metropolitan Division: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
This is starting to feel like Groundhog Day! The Penguins face the Capitals in the second round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year. The Penguins won the previous two years. Can they make it three in a row? Will the Capitals finally defeat their hated rival? The teams were 2-2 in the regular season.
Two factors may determine this series:
Health: the Penguins will lose Evgeny Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1 and maybe longer. The Capitals don’t have any major injuries.
Goaltending: the Penguins destroyed Braden Holtby in last year’s playoffs and in games this season. Are they in his head? The Penguins don’t have the amazing tandem of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury this year so it’s all on Murray.
Prediction: Penguins in 7