With the results of the Friday night NHL finalized, Round 1 of the playoffs is in the books. Just as we wrapped up our work week with Friday giving way to the weekend, the NHL too closed the chapter on Round 1, and on Saturday, they get set to add fresh ink to the following page. Yes, you heard me correctly, Round 2 playoff games begin Saturday night with a highly anticipated matchup between the Stars and the Avalanche.
In case you haven’t been paying much attention to the playoffs thus far, or like most others, blinked and missed it, here are the round 2 matchups and our accompanying predictions. Being that round 2 play begins in the Western Conference, it only felt right to start there.
Dallas Stars vs Colorado Avalanche
Both these teams have a propensity to find themselves in high scoring games. Colorado completely overwhelmed their first-round foe, the Arizona Coyotes, and sprinted to a 5-game series victory. They outscored the Coyotes 22-6 while getting important scoring from Nathan Mackinnon, who is tied for the most points in the postseason with 13.
Dallas, on the other hand, found themselves in a much tighter series. They needed 6 games to put away Calgary, and despite outscoring the Flames 21-17, four of those games were decided by just one goal, including one overtime victory. Dallas is loaded with high end talent, like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov, but they’re also getting valuable minutes from veterans like Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski. Miro Heiskanen also boasts 12 points so far this postseason, which is the most among defensemen.
This series is kind of a toss-up. Both teams lost in game 7 of round 2 in last year’s playoffs. The Stars swept the regular season series but the Avs won their meeting in the round robin 4-0. I think this series is going to feature a ton of offense and will come down to which team can play better defense. I think Colorado may have had it too easy against Arizona round one and might find themselves in a heated contest and against a playoff-tested foe.
Dallas in 7 games.
Vancouver Canucks vs Vegas Golden Knights
Vancouver got over a very important hump in round 1. Their young core secured their first playoff series victory against the defending champions in the St. Louis Blues, 4 games to 2, in a series that included two overtime games.
This young Canucks team is going to have their hands full against a Vegas Golden Knights team that added on to their short, but extensive, history of playoff success by easily skating past the Chicago Blackhawks in 5 games. Vegas plays fast and physical for 60 minutes, which is something the Blues didn’t do much of against Vancouver. Vegas is also significantly more rested than Vancouver and features a roster deep with playoff experience.
VGK in 5 games.
Boston Bruins vs Tampa Bay Lightning
With their round 1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay finally exorcised the demons that hung over them for getting swept by Columbus in round 1 of last year’s playoffs. This was a tight series despite being over after 5 games, with two of those games going to overtime, including the historic 5OT game in game 1.
Tampa had to battle hard against a CBJ team that blocked a lot of shots, while Boston overwhelmed the hurricanes in a much less contested 5-game series win. These teams have a history of feisty matchups. Boston is going to need their top line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand to continue leading their offense.
Tampa will be relying on a healthy Victor Hedman to keep that line at bay, while turning to Nikita Kucherov (7 points vs CBJ) and Brayden Point to lead their offensive attack. Patrick Maroon may also be an important piece to keep Zdeno Chara from pushing around Tampa’s stars. Its hard to bet against the playoff success of the Boston Bruins but I think the Lightning have the grit to match their offense this year.
Tampa Bay in 6.
New York Islanders vs Philadelphia Flyers
The Isles are rolling!! The Brooklyn-based team flattened the Washington Capitals in 5 games, outscoring them 17-8 in the process. They are a Barry Trotz coached team that can outwork their opponents in the neutral zone and play good defense. They’re also getting great offensive production from their top 2 lines; one led by Matthew Barzal and the other by Brock Nelson.
Philadelphia outlasted Montreal in round 1, taking the series 4-2. They somehow won the series despite being outscored 11-13, with two very important wins coming from shutouts in games 3 and 4. They relied on their defense and goaltending to get the job done. However, they surrendered a combined 10 goals against in their two losses in games 2 and 5.
Barry Trotz has had extensive experience coaching in the playoffs, recently leading the Capitals to the cup in 2018, and he has the ability to make good teams better and bring great teams to the next level. In the first playoff meeting between these two teams since 1987, I think the Islanders will score early and often against the Flyers.
Islanders in 5.