The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs was hard to predict. My bracket took a harder hit than I thought it would. The only question to ask now is, are there more upsets in store for round 2?
If this years round 1 felt more unpredictable than others, well, that is because it simply was. Any team can win any given game on any given night. When the playoffs start it almost feels like a new season. Nothing else matters and any one team can win a series. That is something we all saw in round 1. ( Nashville sweeping the Hawks)
No one could predict what happened in Chicago. The Hawks are a six-time Stanley Cup winner and were the top team in the West going into round 1. They were undeniably a very popular choice to make it to the finals. After being swept in 4 by the Nashville Predators, they are gone until October. Minnesota, the second best team in the West and a popular choice is out. Montreal, a team that finally looked like more than its superstar goalie, is out. Boston is out. Not to forget the San Jose Sharks, last year’s West champ, is out. The first round set NHL history with the most games going to overtime. Eighteen was the magic number.
It’s been a chaotic start to this year’s playoffs with four major upsets already in the books. Nashville beating a Chicago team that appeared not to be even trying wasn’t surprising, but doing it in four games sure was. No one predicted a sweep.
If round 1 taught hockey fans anything it is that predicting the playoffs isn’t easy.
But it is still fun to try. Here goes nothing for round 2…
Pittsburgh will rise over Washington. No team was really on their level going into the playoffs and that remains true now. With some of the other top contenders getting the boot in the first round Pittsburgh is the team to beat. I still back my theory that Washington will choke in round 2.
Despite being favored Ottawa will fall to the Rangers. Perhaps the most surprising thing here is Ottawa being favored in their match-up against the Rangers, it makes sense but I don’t think anyone saw it coming. The Sens favored over the Rangers makes sense since they are on the rise since being underdogs in the regular season. But I think round 2 will be their swan song. The Rangers are a lot better than their regular season stats show. In games 5 and 6 of round 1, they put the pressure on, became aggressive and got the puck in the net in crucial moments. When the Rangers and good, they are very good. For me, round 2 will go to New York in 6.
Anaheim vs Edmonton will be the most entertaining series. Everyone is looking forward to seeing how Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf deal with the dynamic Connor McDavid. Counting the playoffs, the Ducks have won 15 of their last 18 games. They’ll have their hands full with Connor McDavid, who totaled six points in their last two meetings. The Oilers bounced back after a 7-0 loss in round 1, but Kesler tends to rise to the occasion. McDavid won’t be shut down completely but the veterans should have the edge against the Oilers’ other lines. I can’t wait to see how this matchup ends.
Predators in six. Both teams were impressive in the second half of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs. This series feels like a toss-up, but the Predators’ defensive might be the difference. Coming into round 2 after sweeping Chicago, Nashville isn’t a team to be taken lightly. I don’t favor the Blues’ chances of holding on. There probably won’t be a
lot of scoring with both goalies on top of their game. The difference will come from the Predators defense.
One step closer to a Stanley Cup champion. If the first round was a preview, we are in for a treat as the NHL playoffs continue. The second round began Wednesday when the St. Louis Blues visited the Nashville Predators. Nashville still remains undefeated in the post- season.