Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round Two Previews and Predictions
All four wild card teams pulled off the upset and will look to ride their respective Cinderella stories into the conference finals. Let’s dive into the second round match ups.
Well, we told you, the Stanley Cup Playoffs truly are madness. That first round had enough drama for an entire playoffs worth. All four division winners are out. The “greatest team in NHL history” got swept. If you filled out a bracket, it’s probably in shambles.
We can only hope round two has at least half the drama the first round offered. Before we dive in, let’s review how the Four Feathers crew, Patrick Comiskey, Ron Luce, Tony Marchese and Jonnie Nonnie, performed in the prediction category in the previous round.
The first round was incredibly tough to predict, unless your name is Tony Marchese. All four wild card teams pulled off the upset and will look to ride their respective Cinderella stories into the conference finals. Let’s dive into the second round matchups.
St. Louis Blues vs. Dallas Stars
Preview: Both the Blues and the Stars came into their first round matchup as the lower seed and both teams won their respective series in six games. The Blues came into the playoffs as the hottest team in the league and didn’t miss a beat against the Winnipeg Jets. The Stars did the hockey world a favor and got rid of the Nashville Predators. Dallas brought superb defense to the playoffs, only allowing two goals per game and killing all 15 of their penalties against Nashville. Don’t expect many goals in this series; the goaltender battle will be one for the ages.
Goaltender Matchup: Jordan Binnington (4-2) GAA: 2.63 SV%: .908 vs. Ben Bishop (4-2) GAA: 1.90 SV%: .945
Playoff Leading Scorers: STL: Alex Pietrangelo (6 Points) DAL: Benn, Seguin, Radulov & Klingberg (6 Points)
Regular Season Series: 3-1 Dallas
Comiskey: Blues in 6.
The Stars looked really good in the first round and they’re probably good enough to get to the conference final. Unfortunately, the Blues are probably the best team in the West, and they’ll dispose of Dallas in six. If Jaden Schwartz continues his hot play and Tarasenko gets going, look out.
Luce: Blues in 6.
The Blues have been one of the hottest teams in hockey since the turn of the new year. After the Blues beat the loaded Winnipeg Jets, it’s hard to pick against them, despite how well the Stars are playing after beating Nashville (which makes me very happy).
Nonnie: Blues in 6.
I’m done picking against Jordan Binnington.
Marchese: Stars in 7.
One thing I’ve learned thus far during these playoffs is to always, for the most part, pick the teams that Pat Comiskey and Jonnie Nonnie don’t. The strategy has worked so far. I’m going to continue to put it to the test here and pick against them regardless of who I think will actually win. I don’t like St. Louis either so I’m going to root for my guy White Sox Sal’s favorite team.
San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche
Preview: The less-famous team to knock off the one seed in their conference is the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs came flying into the playoffs and beat the Calgary Flames with their lightning quick speed in five games. The Sharks went to the brink of elimination twice with the Vegas Golden Knights and won the series with overtime winners in games six and seven after trailing in the series 3-1. Colorado’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen combined for 21 points in just five games. San Jose’s netminder, Martin Jones, will be tasked with slowing down the flurry. Jones comes in hot, stopping 122 of 129 shots in games 5-7 vs. Vegas.
Goaltender Matchup: Martin Jones (4-2) GAA: 3.20 SV%: .904 vs. Philipp Graubauer (4-1) GAA: 1.90 SV%: .939
Playoff Leading Scorers: SJ: Erik Karlsson (9 Points) COL: Mikko Rantanen (9 Points)
Regular Season Series: 3-0 San Jose
Comiskey: Avalanche in 7.
This is a tough call. The Avs are a powerhouse. They are the fastest team in the league. However, the Sharks look like a team of destiny. They came back from a 3-1 series hole. They came back from down 3-0 in game 7 with 10 minutes left. In the end, destiny runs out and MacKinnon and company skate into the conference final.
Luce: Avalanche in 7.
Underdogs have nothing to lose. Underdogs feel no pressure. Underdogs are dangerous. The Avalanche are the ultimate underdog in these playoffs and I don’t think the Sharks, without Joe Pavelski, can keep up with a young team that feels no pressure.
Nonnie: Avalanche in 7.
You saw my record, so the Sharks will probably win in five or something ridiculous like that. However, the Avalanche are young and fast. With San Jose going the distance against Vegas, I think their legs will wear down while the Avs still have more in the tank.
Marchese: Sharks in 7.
This one is tough for me. Colorado is my rooting interest, but both Nonnie and Comiskey picked them in this round. Since I’m a man of my word and said I’d go against Nonnie and Comiskey, I have to go with the Sharks. Sorry guys.
Boston Bruins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Preview: For the second consecutive season, the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in game seven at the Garden. Worth noting: Boston owns Toronto. Also, in perhaps the biggest upset in NHL history, the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning. Both teams have phenomenal top-six forwards. Both teams also come into this series with red-hot power plays. The Jackets converted on 50% of their power play opportunities against the league’s best penalty killing unit in the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins were no slouch either, as they scored seven times on 16 attempts vs Toronto. Expect a decent amount of goals. Whichever goaltender can slow the other team down better may be the key to this series.
Goaltender Matchup: Tuukka Rask (4-3) GAA: 2.32 SV%: .928 vs. Sergei Bobrovsky (4-0) GAA: 2.01 SV%: .932
Playoff Leading Scorers: BOS: Brad Marchand (9 Points) CBJ: Matt Duchene (7 Points)
Regular Season Series: 2-1 Boston (Boston won 1 game in OT)
Comiskey: Bruins in 6.
This series is going to be phenomenal. If you like high-scoring games, this is the series for you. I picked Boston to win the Stanley Cup, so I will continue to ride with them, but Columbus can beat anybody with Bobrovsky rolling. In the end, I think David Pastrnak starts putting the puck in the net and Boston advances.
Luce: Blue Jackets in 6.
They just swept the best team in hockey, why can’t they beat a Bruins team that just got done playing a seventh game. Only concern I have: the Blue Jackets have not played in FOREVER after sweeping the Lightning. Plus, I’m 2-6 and I want to be different. Go Jackets.
Nonnie: Bruins in 6.
Boston is tough as nails in the playoffs. They play dirty, don’t get penalized for it, then score opportunistic goals and the crowd goes nuts, exclaiming “PAHHHSTAAAA!” The slew of Boston dummies wearing knock-off Marchand jerseys and Chuckie Bright Lights snapbacks will be undeservedly celebrating once again at the end of this series.
Marchese: Blue Jackets in 7.
Just keeping this train rolling if Nonnie and Comiskey keep copying off each other.
New York Islanders vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Preview: In a surprising turn of events, the Islanders shut down Sidney Crosby and the Penguins and sent them home in four games. It took the Jerks from Carolina a little bit longer to advance, as they defeated the defending Cup champs in double overtime in game seven to move on. The Islanders, led by defending champion head coach Barry Trotz, held the Penguins to just 1.5 goals per game in the first round. The Hurricanes defense was key in knocking off the champs. Their defense moves the puck well and takes away the middle of the ice. While the other Eastern Conference tilt might be high scoring, don’t expect this one to be.
Goaltender Matchup: Robin Lehner (4-0) GAA: 1.47 SV%: .956 vs. Peter Mrazek (4-3) GAA: 2.54 SV%: .899
Playoff Leading Scorers: NYI: Jordan Eberle (6 Points) CAR: Jacob Slavin (9 Points)
Regular Season Series: 3-1 Islanders (1 Islanders win came in OT)
Comiskey: Islanders in 7.
The Hurricanes have been a fun story this year and they were good enough to knock off the Caps. However, Washington looked gassed and Carolina is going to get a well-rested Islanders team that plays the best defense in hockey.
Luce: Hurricanes in 6.
The Hurricanes are playing inspired. They just beat the defending champions and now are setting themselves up to fulfill my bracket prophecy (Stanley Cup Winner). I think the Hurricanes have played well and have the momentum going into a very quiet Barclay’s Center since the Islanders won’t being playing at the Coliseum where they were wildly successful.
Nonnie: Islanders in 6.
The Canes are a feel-good story with some exciting young offensive threats. The Islanders are the definition of a defensive juggernaut. I think defense wins out in this matchup. Barry Trotz knows what he’s doing.
Marchese: Hurricanes in 6
See the above explanations.. those two just love picking the same teams.
There you have it, those are our official second round predictions. Three of the four crew members seen their predicted Stanley Cup winner take a dive in the first round. It has truly been a weird playoffs so far. Here’s to many more strange moments.
Featured Photo: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports