Round One of the playoffs went by in...underwhelming fashion. Despite many close series on paper, only one matchup went the distance. Even then, it really only got there because of Freddy Anderson.
Say what you want about the NHL’s playoff format, but there are some powerhouse matchups in Round Two. Four of the NHL’s best teams go head-to-head in the Central and Atlantic Divisions, while the Caps prepare for their annual collapse against the Pens.
Without further ado, here are some of our foolproof predictions for Round Two.
1 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING versus 2 BOSTON BRUINS
Beggsy: Despite going seven games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins were clearly the superior team. In their four wins, the top line shredded the Leafs for a combined 30 points. This series might come down to a battle of top scorers, as Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos combined for 16 points in five games. I’m giving the edge to a deeper, quicker Lightning team against the Bruins. Bolts in 7.
jimmi: As unlikely as it might seem....agree with Beggsy. Not just because the Bolts MUST beat the Boo-urns, but because they must or the universe will suffer terribly and we don’t want that. Bolts in 6.
westy99: As much as I loved watching the Leafs lose to the Bruins, I will savor the Bruins losing to the Lightning. Bolts in 5
Kent Basky: Tampa’s deep, and far better defensively than the Leafs, and that might help them against the Bruins. They have better goaltending, and can go toe to toe in a shootout, too. The only way Boston wins this is if they go full Marchand and goon it up. Bolts in 6.
1 WASHINGTON CAPITALS versus 2 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Beggsy: Once again, we have the penultimate battle of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. With both players above 1000 points in their career, the narrative behind this battle seems worn out. To date, the Capitals have had absolutely no luck against the Penguins in the playoffs. With a team lacking depth compared to previous years, it’s easy to pick the Pens to move on to Round Three. Of course, that means this is the year where the Capitals actually pull it off and beat Pittsburgh. Caps in 7.
jimmi: Another mean-nothing eastern series. I often wish the Federal Hockey Agency would just split up the NHL. Right down the middle - of geography. East and West with their own pro leagues and the twain shall not meet. Until then... let the meaningless eastern trend continue with Pens in 6.
westy99: This mandatory match up between two of the big NHL stars always leave Ovie in tears. This year as well. Pens in 7
KB: They said the Canucks would never beat the Blackhawks. Caps in 7.
1 NASHVILLE PREDATORS versus 2 WINNIPEG JETS
Beggsy: Ever since the puck dropped on playoff hockey, we’ve all been waiting for this matchup. These two teams showcased the best of NHL hockey during the regular season in some insanely entertaining games. With the stakes raised in Round Two, don’t expect either team to take their foot off the gas. Let’s just all hope this goes seven games, where I like the Jets’ better elite talent and size over the Preds. Blakey and the Jets in 7.
jimmi: This is an unfortunate 2nd round matchup. If, as described above, the two conferences were two leagues, this would be the Cup final matchup and would only ruin a portion of our summer garden prep. Will be rooting, in the garden, for the Jets in 6.
westy99: You would think I would watch Canada’s last team play against the best team in the league....and you’d be wrong. I won’t watch this series as I care little for either team. Preds in 6
KB: I agree with Jimmi in that this should have been the Western Conference matchup at the very least. That being said, this Winnipeg team has been one that I’ve felt is a dark horse contender from the get go and now that they’re getting healthy are going to roll over the Presidents’ Trophy winners. A message for Mike Fisher: Retire, bitch. Looking forward to more Carrie Underwood tears. Jets in 7.
1 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS versus 3 SAN JOSE SHARKS
Compared to every other matchup in Round Two, this one will likely gain the least amount of notoriety. Sure the Golden Knights are a great story, but there isn’t any established rivalary between these two teams. Vegas should be the favourite here because they seemed to have bags of fairy dust tucked in their shin pads, but I still can’t find myself drinking the Vegas kool-aid. Compared to Vegas’ last opponent in L.A., the Sharks are deeper on offence and aren’t decimated by injuries on defence. Sharks in 6.
jimmi: Do we have a Cup yet? No, no we don’t. (Altho...Westy says we’ll have one soon. Maybe tonight? Maybe we already have it and the
[redacted] is waiting for the just the right moment to tell us).
Do the Sharks deserve another run? No, no they don’t. Do the Vegas Stolen Nights? No, no they don’t. But they did spend half a billion dollars and nearly $17M came to the Nucks, probably to cover the first year of Dahlin’s UFA contract with us. Therefore... it’s more fun house money with Vegas, Baby, in
westy99: I hate everything Vegas has become. Expansion teams are supposed to suck. And yet, they don’t. Vegas in 7...I know...I hate it too
KB: This whole thing is terrible for everything in hockey except Vegas’s fans and Gary Bettman. Shun them. They’re going to win, and it sucks so bad, but I don’t think San Jose can stop this Frankenteam. Vegas in 5.