After a wild Boston-Toronto Game 7 last night (words that will no doubt trigger Toronto fans for the rest of eternity), we’re ready for Round 2 of the 2018 NHL Playoffs to begin tonight. Once again, we’ve made some predictions that are blissfully stress-free.
Please share in the comments what you think will happen this round.
Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Dave: Caps in 7. These two meeting in the playoffs is getting old. We all know what both teams have and don’t have. In the end, I think the Caps finally break through though.
Rob: Caps in 6. In a bit of a contrarian turn, I’m going to put this out there: I really enjoy the fact that the Penguins and Capitals are playing each other for what feels like the 4,000th time. It’s how rivalries happen and become genuine. Remember that most of the people decrying this are also the ones who fetishize the Original Six era where you actually played the same teams over and over and over again. Apropos of nothing: Caps in 6. They finally slay the dragon.
Pat: Caps in 6. I’m going to cut the baby in half here between Rob and Dave. I think that it’s good for teams to play each other over and over again in the playoffs, especially when it’s two of the league’s biggest stars involved. I just don’t find this particular rivalry, however organic, to be that interesting. That said I like the Caps’ lineup better than the Penguins’ as far as depth guys go and I think just in terms of like, flipping a coin continuously (I know that there’s more to it than that obviously) eventually it’s going to land on the other side.
Becky: Pens in 7. Do I think the Penguins should win this series? No. But do I think they will? Absolutely. I don’t often root for the Flyers, but watching the refs essentially turn the other cheek on Kris Letang filth only to call phantom penalties on the Flyers drove me nuts. It’s hard to beat a team that has not only arguably the best player of the last decade on their team, but also refs, even without Evgeni Malkin tonight.
Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Dave: Bolts in 6. The Bolts are the cream of the crop in the East, but the Leafs can almost score at will. This should be a high flying series. But again, depth conquers all, and the Bolts have it.
Rob: Bolts in 6. The Bruins are a really solid team, but I’m going to have trouble picking against Tampa Bay. Too much speed, skill and depth. Unless Rick Nash has a huge series and tips the scales (he is capable, but given the last five years’ worth of playoff performances I think it’s safe to say it’s unlikely), Tampa will be too much for Boston.
Pat: Bolts in 5. Boston is obviously a good team, and has great underlying numbers, but to me Tampa Bay is Toronto with better players. They might not be able to spread the wealth as much with regards to their forward lines but that should be mitigated by the fact that Stamkos and Kucherov are better than any of the forwards on the Leafs, their defense is miles ahead of Toronto’s, and their goaltending is superb.
Becky: Bruins in 6. What Game 7 showed us last night about the Bruins was the ability to adapt and get your best players where they need to be. I think the Lightning are spectacularly talented but, lest we forget, their defense is just okay at best, and the Bruins know how to exploit bad defenses. I’m looking for plenty of well-scoring games and hopefully a lot of overtime.
Winnipeg Jets vs. Nashville Predators
Dave: Preds in 7. The two best teams in the West meet not in the Conference Final, but in the second round. Love this playoff system. Both teams are fantastic, and this goes to the wire. I think it’s Nashville’s blue line depth wins it for them.
Rob: Jets in 7. This should be a fun one. As Dave mentioned, it’s probably the two best teams out west, and two of the best three in the league. Because it’s so close, I’m looking straight at the goaltenders, Hellebuyck and Rinne. Both have strengths and weaknesses, and Rinne had a very good season, but I’m going with Hellebuyck. Either way, expect this one to go the distance
Pat: Jets in 7. This to me is probably the best matchup of the playoffs, including the Cup Final (my dad has this kooky idea that the league should reseed cross conference so that these two teams could meet in the Final and ya know, he might be right). It’s so hard for me to decide, but I think Laine comes alive and just scores at will during this series. It’ll be tough as hell though, so it’s going to Game Seven.
Becky: Preds in 6. The Jets are no joke but, then again, neither is Nashville. Choosing the winner of this series was a coin flip but I expect nothing but great, entertaining hockey and some great non-10pm starts. Echoing Dave, this is the best series in the West, and we get it in the second round.
San Jose Sharks vs Las Vegas Golden Knights
Dave: Sharks in 6. I honestly don’t know what to make of the Knights anymore. Everything logical says they should lose, but they don’t. But I’m all aboard team Thornton for this series.
Rob: Sharks in 6. I think the Sharks will find a way to solve the Golden Knights, who have been trouble for literally every other team in the NHL this year. But eventually the playoffs test you (not so for the Knights, as the LA Kings – a bad hockey team – were their first opponent) and most teams fail a few playoff tests before succeeding. I think the more experienced Sharks outlast Vegas in this series.
Pat: Sharks in 6. Echoing Rob, it’s a little bit weird that no on has cracked the code on Vegas yet but over a seven game series a competent team (ie: not the LA Kings) should be able to do it. Also I love Joe Thornton, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before.
Becky: Knights in 6. I’m still here for the Logan Couture post-loss emo tweets. I’m not here for Marc-Andre Fleury winning any more cups though, so be on the lookout for me rooting hard against Vegas."Stress-Free Playoffs: Round 2 Predictions",