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AP Photo/Nick Wass

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round Preview And Predictions

After eight hard-fought series ending with Boston’s Game 7 victory against Toronto, the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been cut in half. The bracket has remained almost all chalk, with the Sharks being the only team that wasn’t top-two in their division to advance to the second round. All four of these second-round series should be very tough, but this is how I see them shaping up.


Pittsburgh Penguins (M2) vs. Washington Capitals (M1)

Even the mildest of hockey fans recognize the Penguins-Capitals matchup, as this is the third consecutive season the two franchises are facing off in the playoffs. Pittsburgh of course won each of the last two seasons, so they probably have a ton of confidence heading in. But after the Capitals fell behind 0-2 in the first round and looked to be having playoff woes once again, the way they stormed back with four straight wins is an extremely positive sign and shows they won’t get nervous despite all the outside noise about them. However, after picking against the defending back-to-back champs last round, it won’t happen again.


Prediction: Penguins in seven



San Jose Sharks (P3) vs. Las Vegas Golden Knights (P1)

Despite the Ducks coming into the playoffs as one of the league’s hottest teams, the Sharks took care of them in four games in an all-California battle. Meanwhile, the expansion Golden Knights swept the Kings to win their first series in franchise history. Both teams played really good defense in the first round, but this series could potentially turn into a more wide-open affair. My head says to go with the team that was in the Stanley Cup Finals a couple years ago, but my heart says to go with the team that feels like they are destined to keep winning.


Prediction: Golden Knights in seven



Winnipeg Jets (C2) vs. Nashville Predators (C1)

Because of the NHL’s playoff format, we get a second-round matchup of the league’s top two teams during the regular season. Both teams have a ton of talent, a ton of depth, and two excellent goaltenders; and they both play great on offense and defense. All these series are great, but Jets-Predators is probably the best of the bunch. Many of their stars are young, but they are experienced, and head coach Peter Laviolette has had this team playing the best hockey of anyone in the West over the last year-plus.


Prediction: Predators in seven



Boston Bruins (A2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (A1)

The first three predictions were all seven-game series, so the thinking is that these will be close series. Bruins-Lightning should be no different. Led by Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos offensively, Tampa Bay is probably going to get their share of pucks in the net even against Boston’s top-four defense. The Bruins did take three-of-four in their regular season series, and their offense comes into the series hot. The Lightning and Bruins had the two best goal differentials in the Eastern Conference this season, and there might be some bad blood after things got heated between the teams toward the end of an intense regular season finish for the division’s top seed. All four series going seven games would be quite the treat, and it might happen this year.


Prediction: Lightning in seven


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