Who will advance?
NHL playoff matchups, predictions for Round 2
Round 2 of the NHL playoffs is here, and if it is anything like Round 1, we have no idea what was going to happen. I went a wonderful 1-7 in Round 1, so you should probably fade me in Round 2. I did pick three underdogs, and they were the only three who failed to win. Oh well. We move on:
Boston vs. Columbus
The Jackets have had some time off since sweeping the best team in hockey in Tampa. Boston just finished a grueling seven game series with Toronto, which simply can't beat the Bruins. Boston has one of the top lines in hockey, but the Jackets have a goalie who can play at an elite level. They also added several players at the trade deadline, and with the time off, they have had more time to work on chemistry. Boston's depth proved too much for Toronto, but the Jackets should be able to match. Columbus matches up better with Boston than they did Toronto, and look for them to pull off another mild upset.
Prediction: Jackets in 6.
Carolina vs. the NY Islanders
Wow. What a Game 7 by the Canes, who slapped the defending champion Capitals in seven games, winning in double OT. They catch a gritty Islanders team, who knocked off Pittsburgh. Neither team is pretty; the Isles, however, are less ugly and have had time off. No one has played better than the Islanders goalies this season, and they relied on Robin Lehner in the first round upset. Don't see them winning the Cup, but they should make the conference finals.
Prediction: Isles in 6.
San Jose vs. Colorado
Let's be honest, the Sharks had no business beating Vegas. But they did. If Joe Pavelski is out, they are very vulnerable, especially since goalie Martin Jones is inconsistent. He won Game 6 for the Sharks but has also been a sieve at times. Colorado has the best top line in hockey and maybe the best player left in the playoffs in Nathan MacKinnon. The Avs don't have the depth the Sharks have, but they are talented. If Martin Jones plays well for San Jose the Sharks should advance. But don't be shocked if the Avs pull off the upset.
Prediction: Sharks in 7.
St. Louis vs. Dallas
The Blues play heavy hockey, and have been the best team in the NHL over the past couple months, mostly thanks to goalie Jordan Binnington, who has gone full Kurt Warner and sold his soul. They really should not have gotten past Winnipeg, but they did. The Stars are completely different from past Dallas incarnations. They play conservative and hold back and play amazing defense. And they have the best goalie left in the playoffs. They will remind you of the Kings teams that won two Cups.
Prediction: Stars in 7.