NHL Playoffs Round Two

April 26, 2018 - 3:04 pm

The first round of postseason hockey has come and gone and for the most part, the results were what most people were expecting. However, there were some standout performances and it changed most people’s opinions on who might be the favorites to win the cup. So, with the second round getting underway, let’s review each match up and find out what to expect in each matchup.

Western Conference: Predators vs Jets

Flip Forsberg is most likely not human. He already has some of the most amazing highlight goals of the postseason but that didn’t help the Predators much as they struggled against the Avalanche. The Predators never seemed to get the start they were looking for. In fact, in their first three games, they didn’t score first, often giving up the first goal within the first 5 minutes. Pekka Rinne has to be better going against the Jets. They will test him early and often. Before game six, Rinne faced 132 shots and allowed 14 goals. If they want to continue in the postseason, they need him to be his best. The most positive thing was their penalty kill. Nine out of ten times, the penalty kill would result in no goals for the other team. Smashville will be rocking and they will need to be able to help the Predators with the Jets.

The Jets looked about as dominant a team in the first round. They were physical and upfront against the Wild. Besides Game 3, the Wild looked like they didn’t have a chance in those games. The Jets look like a team that plays as a team and with all but 4 of their players having a point so far in the postseason, they are getting it done with everyone. Also, Hellebuyck is making sure that everyone knows his name for the Vezina Trophy. With two shutouts already, he is certainly the player to watch for in this matchup.

Overall this will be one of those matchups where I think you won’t know who is going to win this series until after game two. With both teams winning their last game 5-0 it’s hard to tell who has the momentum going into the series. The way the Jets moved the puck against the Wild really has me believing that they will take down the Predators.

Prediction: Jets in seven

Sharks vs Golden Knights

What a display of offense we have with this team after scoring 16 goals in 4 games, including an eight-goal game in game three. So, not only were goals coming in hot, but they also got under the Ducks skin so much that they drew 24 penalties, the highest after game four. If the Sharks want to continue being hot offensively, they need to keep the puck spread out. They are doing a really nice job of giving everyone opportunities to try and score and most of them are taking it. Continue being that hard nose hockey team that we expect from you and the series should favor you. Also, give some love to the goaltender Martin Jones. He saved 97% of shots faced in the series, which is just not fair to most goaltenders.

The Golden Year continues for the Golden Knights. We have heard enough about all of the firsts that they have done this year but with so few goals scored in their first-round series, it’s hard to read what this team is going to do. Fleury is the heart piece of this team. If he was average in those games against the Kings, they probably would have lost. Fleury saved nearly 98% of shots faced in the series against the Kings, which was the best in this postseason. The defense of the Golden Knights needs to be as strong as ever. This will be a real test for them to see if they are going to continue defying expectations.  

With the Knights going 3-0-1 in the series against the Sharks in the regular season, it’s really hard for me to go against the wave of momentum that the Knights are on. I will say, this is the series where we will see them struggle but it’s how they deal with the struggle against the Sharks that is going to speak volumes. 

Prediction: Knights in six

Eastern Conference: Capitals Vs Penguins

Here we go again. For the third straight year, it is the Penguins vs the Capitals in the second round. The Penguins struggled more than most people thought would happen. Murray had some uncharacteristic goals go in that normally, he would have saved no problem. Malkin and Haglin are already ruled out for game one and they are going to need Malkin’s size and aggressiveness in game one. However, for all their faults, their playmakers continue to make big-time plays. We can talk all day about how Crosby has been spectacular in the postseason but for me, my eyes are on Jake Guentzel. Jake and Sidney are tied for goals and points in the postseason with both players leading in those stats. Also, they are one assist each from leading that stat as well. They play at a different level when in the postseason and I think the only reason they struggled the way they did was that it was their in-state rival they faced. This is as good of a Penguins team we have seen go into a second round that we have seen in a while.

The meme is quiet for another round. For those of you who don’t know, there is a running joke about how the Capitals never make it past the second round of the playoffs. In fact, the last time the Capitals made it past the second round was 20 years ago. The Capitals first two games looked like the meme would live on for another year. Then Holtby was put back as the goaltender and the Capitals started to look like themselves. If the Capitals want a shot in this, they need to not rely on Ovechkin. Oshie and Kuznetsov will be the two players to look for to help the Capitals in this series.

This is going to be a game full of emotion and it’s going to be a physical game. Both teams know each other very well, with not a lot changing from year to year. As someone who supports the Capitals, I don’t think the meme will die this year. The Penguins are just downright amazing right now and the Capitals will need the Penguins to make a ton of mistakes for the Capitals to move on.

Prediction: Penguins in six

Lightning vs Bruins

The best team in the East proved why they are to be feared with a relatively easy time against the Devils. The main thing we were looking at was how well Stamkos was going to play. With 6 points in the series, 1 goal and 5 assists, I would say that things are looking good for the captain. However, while we were looking at Stamkos, Kucherov and Killorn showed everyone that this is a deadly offensive team. With each of them scoring at least 4 goals each in the series, it is safe to say that the shots from this team will come in hot and heavy. The thing we need to look at from them is how composed they can stay and how determined they are to shut down the Bruins offense. If they get ahead in line changes and keep the Bruins on the ice for long periods of time, the Lightning will have no problem moving on.

The Bruins are the most game ready team for game one in this series. After just coming off an impressive game seven victory against the Maple Leafs, the Bruins showed how far playing with heart will get you. Two late goals when it was 4v4 showed that this team is ready to play. They need to be smarter when it comes to the positioning of players. There were too many times in the series with the Leafs where the Leafs had a chance at a shorthanded goal. Now granted, the Leafs were younger and probably a little faster on the skate but a veteran team like the Bruins need to know how to position better. Also, Rask needs to be better. In game seven, he let up a shorthanded goal and a goal over his glove which most people would think would be an easier save. His third period was outstanding and the Bruins will need that to have a shot at the Lightning.

For me, this has all the makings of a classic seven-game series. I know the Bruins would not like another game seven but I think it might come down to that. Both teams are fantastic at home and I really think it’s going to come down to who can take a game on the road. 

Prediction: Bruins in 7

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