2017 NHL Playoffs Second Round Predictions

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Okay, so I predicted five out of eight for the first round series correct, but when I was wrong, boy was I wrong. I predicted the Wild sweeping the Blues, which was about as wrong I could have been, and also predicted the Blackhawks to beat the Predators in only 6 games and they got swept. But show me someone who predicted the Predators to beat the Blackhawks like that, and I’ll show you a liar. I also got the Bruins series wrong, but hard to predict the Bruins having to play half of the Providence Bruins’ roster.  Not to mention that 43% of the games went to overtime. If the second round is anything like the first, everyone is in for a treat.

Eastern Conference

 New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

How the Rangers got here:

The Rangers finished off the Canadiens in a back and forth defensive struggle. The Rangers ultimately had more offensive firepower than the Canadiens (which isn’t saying much.)

 Why the Rangers will win:

The Rangers have one advantage over the Senators and that’s depth. The Senators rely heavily on defenseman Erik Karlsson who is averaging a ridiculous time on ice of 30:24 per game in the playoffs. The Rangers have more offense than the Bruins did, so they will start to wear down the Senators, especially as the series goes longer. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist also looks to have a little magic left, posting an eye-catching .947 save percentage and 1.70 GAA. 

How the Senators got here:

The Senators were able to capitalize on a depleted Bruins team that made too many mistakes. The Senators dispatched the Bruins in 6 games with four one goal wins and three those coming in overtime. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Why the Senators will win:

The Senators will have to continue to rely heavily on Karlsson, but luckily for them he is that good. Craig Anderson will also have to play well to match Lundqvist’s play.

Who will win:

The Senators are a weird team that is pretty faceless. With that being said, the Rangers have an experienced team that is just more complete than the Senators on both the offensive and defensive end.

 Number of games: 6

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

How the Penguins got here:

The Penguins overwhelmed the Columbus Blue Jackets with their depth and offensive firepower. No one even seemed to noticed that Matt Murray missed the entire series with an injury, as the Penguins eliminated the Blue Jackets in 5 games.

Why the Penguins will win:

The Penguins play an exceptionally fast style of play, similar to the Toronto Maple Leafs that gave the Capitals fits in the opening round. The Penguins have the best player in the world in Sidney Crosby, but so far in the playoffs, Evgeni Malkin has been a beast. Malkin posted 11 points in the first round with an even more impressive +7 plus-minus rating, while Crosby had 7 points but for a -2 rating. Marc-Andre Fleury was good enough in the first round, but will have to play even better in this series to counter the Capitals offense and match Vezina trophy finalist Brayden Holtby.

How the Capitals got here:

The Capitals got a little bit of a scare in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who took a 2-1 lead on the Caps and took them to the brink of a game 7. The Capitals stayed the course, however, and eliminated the Leafs in six games.

Why the Capitals will win:

The Capitals have the most complete team that we have seen in recent years. Their offense is overwhelming, their blue line is loaded with talent, and their goaltending is among the league’s best. On paper, they should beat a Penguins lineup plagued with injuries. The opening round was a perfect situation for them, as they were be able to come back after going down 2-1 in the series, which does wonder for a team that is doing everything to not say “here we go again”.

Who will win:

I like the Penguins’ offensive fire power and skill up front, but if Matt Murray doesn’t get healthy and they have to lean on Marc-Andre Fleury once again with a defensive core that is really missing Kris Letang, it could ultimately be the difference in the series. The Capitals are just too complete and after proving they can mentally withstand the pressure from the previous round, I like the Capitals to win this series.

Number of Games: 7

Western Conference 

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

How the Ducks got here:

The Ducks swept the Flames with three one-goal wins, and the other being a two-goal win with an empty netter. They used a balanced attack and a veteran core to beat the young Flames.

Why the Ducks will win:

The advantage that the Ducks have over the Oilers is experience. They have the same core that has seen them make many deep playoff runs and this is likely one of their last chances as the window closes. Adding back defensemen Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen will certainly help, and Ryan Kesler will be a huge factor in this series, as he known for being one of the top cover centers in the NHL. He will be tasked to cover Connor McDavid, and if he can slow down McDavid enough, that could be the difference in the series.

How the Oilers got here:

The Oilers rallied behind arguably the best goalie in the first round in Cam Talbot, who was brilliant aside from a bizarre 7-0 loss in Game 4. Their roll players stepped up and using their youth they were able to eliminate an aging Sharks team.

Why the Oilers will win:

McDavid only had one goal with a goalie in net in the opening series (his other was an empty netter). If the Oilers were still able to win the series even with McDavid under-producing, it’s scary to think how good the Oilers will be once he starts producing. Talbot is also playing lights out asides from the 7-0 disaster. Nothing is a recipe for success in the playoffs like a hot goaltender.

Who will win:

The Ducks are the hottest team still left in the playoffs. But, I don’t think they match up well with the Oilers’ speed and offense. It’ll be a back and forth series, but the Oilers have the edge.

Number of games: 6

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

How the Predators got here:

The Predators stunned the Chicago Blackhawks, who are the gold standard in the NHL, sweeping them in a series that was never close.

Why the Predators will win:

The Predators will win because of their defense. The Predators didn’t even let up a goal until Game 3 against the Blackhawks, and Pekka Rinne posted an eye popping .976 save percentage and a .70 GAA. And no, you didn’t misread that. He was that good. He was so good he even had two assists. When your goaltender puts up points, it’s safe to say your team is playing well.

How the Blues got here:

The Blues grabbed the attention of the league after they eliminated who many believed to be a cup favorite in the Minnesota Wild. Goaltender Jake Allen gave the Wild fits as the Blues got some timely goal scoring.

Why the Blues will win:

Similar to the Predators, the Blues rely heavily on their goaltender Jake Allen, who had an incredible 36.4 saves per game. Star Vladamir Tarasenko was quiet with only 3 points in the first round, but he will be crucial in trying to crack the Predators’ wall.

Who will win:

These are two teams that no one really expected to be here but here they are. They both have strong goaltenders, but I like the Predators in this series based on their defense that compliments their goalie, while the Blues defense often left Allen on an island last series as they were outshot by nearly 10 shots per game last series.

Number of games: 6

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