NHL Playoff Round Two Preview

Eastern Conference

Metropolitan Division

(1) Washington Capitals vs (2) Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Schedule:
    • Game 1: Thursday 4/27 in Washington
    • Game 2: Saturday 4/29 in Washington
    • Game 3: Monday 5/1 in Pittsburgh
    • Game 4: Wednesday 5/3 in Pittsburgh
    • Game 5 (If Necessary): Saturday 5/6 in Washington
    • Game 6 (If Necessary): Monday 5/8 in Pittsburgh
    • Game 7 (If Necessary): Wednesday 5/10 in Washington
  • Washington won the regular season series 2-0-2
  • Pittsburgh beat Columbus in the first round in five games and the series wasn’t even that close for the most part.  The Penguins will enter this series with a lot of momentum as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were both stellar in the first round.  They also got a lot of production from their bottom two lines and their defense wasn’t tested much.  They should get Matt Murray back in the second round but will probably start Marc-Andre Fleury until he loses the job.  This series will be a much bigger test for the Penguins and it will be difficult for them to advance, especially without Kris Letang.
  • Washington faced a much more difficult test with the Maple Leafs than they probably were expecting.  The Capitals looked vulnerable at times and appeared to be on the ropes facing Toronto’s speedy forwards.  They looked much better as the series progressed and in the overtime of game six, Toronto had no chance.  The momentum they will carry into their series with Pittsburgh will make them a difficult team to oust.
  • I think this is finally the year that Washington can advance past the Penguins and get to the Conference Finals.  They are a very deep team that will test Pittsburgh’s depth on defense that is currently lacking a number one.
  • Prediction: Washington will win the series in 6 games

Atlantic Division

(2) Ottawa Senators vs (WC1) New York Rangers

  • Schedule:
    • Game 1: Thursday 4/27 in Ottawa
    • Game 2: Saturday 4/29 in Ottawa
    • Game 3: Tuesday 5/2 in New York
    • Game 4: Thursday 5/4 in New York
    • Game 5 (If Necessary): Saturday 5/6 in Ottawa
    • Game 6 (If Necessary): Tuesday 5/9 in New York
    • Game 7 (If Necessary): Thursday 5/11 in Ottawa
  • Ottawa won the season series 2-1
  • The Senators surprised a lot of people by beating Boston in the first round and got a lot of scoring from players who weren’t expected to produce.  Goaltender Craig Anderson was amazing in their series, outperforming Tuukka Rask.  It also helps that they have the best defenseman in the world in Erik Karlsson, who even when injured, is still good enough to go up against a team’s top line.
  • The Rangers also produced an upset in the first round at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal didn’t create enough of a forecheck to cause problems for the weak Rangers defense corps.  Their defensemen were insulated enough so that they were able to clear the puck out of the defensive zone and move it up to their forwards.  It also helped that Henrik Lundqvist was able to bounce back from his down regular season and be the elite goaltender he has been throughout his career.
  • I think that what Ottawa did in the first round was for real and they have the forward talent to be able to give the Rangers blue line fits.  The Senators also have a top four defense that can go up against New York’s forwards.
  • Prediction: Ottawa wins the series in 6 games

Western Conference

Central Division

(3) St. Louis Blues vs (WC2) Nashville Predators

  • Schedule:
    • Game 1: Wednesday 4/26 in St. Louis
    • Game 2: Friday 4/28 in St. Louis
    • Game 3: Sunday 4/30 in Nashville
    • Game 4: Tuesday 5/2 in Nashville
    • Game 5 (If Necessary): Friday 5/5 in St. Louis
    • Game 6 (If Necessary): Sunday 5/7 in Nashville
    • Game 7 (If Necessary): Tuesday 5/9 in St. Louis
  • Nashville won the season series 3-2-0
  • St. Louis beat the Minnesota Wild in five games in not so close fashion.  Goaltender Jake Allen was stellar, despite facing significantly more shots than Devan Dubnyk did.  They also haven’t felt the loss of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as much as many thought they would and their defense did a great job shutting down Minnesota’s forwards.
  • Nashville expelled the Blackhawks in the first round, sweeping them in four games.  I don’t think anyone expected Nashville to sweep Chicago even if people picked them to win like I did. The Predators allowed just three goals in their series, including shutouts in the first two games. Their first line was amazing, combining for 15 points in their sweep.  It also helps that the Predators have the best defense in hockey with significant depth.
  • Prior to the season starting I picked Nashville to win the Western Conference and I’m not going to go against that now.  As long as goaltender Pekka Rinne can play as well as he did in the first round, the Predators should be in good shape.  I think that Nashville can cause more problems for the Blues than the Wild were able to.
  • Prediction: Nashville will win the series in 7 games

Pacific Division

(1) Anaheim Ducks vs (2) Edmonton Oilers

  • Schedule:
    • Game 1: Wednesday 4/26 in Anaheim
    • Game 2: Friday 4/28 in Anaheim
    • Game 3: Sunday 4/30 in Edmonton
    • Game 4: Wednesday 5/3 in Edmonton
    • Game 5 (If Necessary): Friday 5/5 in Anaheim
    • Game 6 (If Necessary): Sunday 5/7 in Edmonton
    • Game 7 (If Necessary): Wednesday 5/10 in Anaheim
  • Edmonton won the season series 3-2-0
  • Anaheim dispelled the Calgary Flames in the first round by sweeping them in four games. Their playoff experience showed as they were able to push the Flames young players into taking penalties.  Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf were amazing in the series and their deep defense gave the Flames forwards fits.  They also got solid goaltending from John Gibson.
  • Edmonton beat reigning Western Conference champs, the San Jose Sharks, in the first round. They showed a great ability to win close games, something that doesn’t always appear in young teams.  Connor McDavid took over that matchup, leading the series in points, and goaltender Cam Talbot showed very little rust, except for game four, despite starting 73 games in the regular season.  It also helped that San Jose was injured for much of the series as both Joe Thornton and Mikkel Boedker missed two games and Logan Couture wasn’t 100% at any point in the series.
  • Edmonton will certainly have a more difficult time with Anaheim than they did with the Sharks.  Anaheim has as good of a defense as the Sharks do plus they should be getting Cam Fowler back in the second round.  The two teams probably have equal goaltending with both John Gibson and Cam Talbot capable of stealing a game.  I personally like the Oilers’ offense a little bit more but Connor McDavid should become accustomed to seeing a lot of Ryan Kesler who will give that line a hard time.  I think though that Edmonton has a better bottom three lines than the Ducks do, especially with how well Zack Kassian played in the first round.
  • Prediction: Edmonton wins in 7 games
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