With the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs coming to a close last night with a 3-2 Philadelphia win, and 6-2 Vancouver win, the Second Round is set to begin tonight with Colorado facing Dallas at 8:00 ET.
Here are my predictions for each of the Second Round series, which turn out to be all inner division showdowns.
Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Islanders:
To many people’s surprise the Islanders took down the Washington Capitals in just five games, outshooting them, outhitting them, and outscoring the Capitals 17-8.
To no one’s surprise the Flyers got through the Canadiens in six games, however when you look deeper at the stats, Montreal actually outplayed Philadelphia in all aspects of the game the Flyers were simply just able to get the job done as the clear better team.
This series between Metropolitan Division opponents is bound to be an entertaining one as the Islanders have been scoring at will, while Carter Hart in net for Philadelphia has been phenomenal posting a 1.71 goals against average, and a .943 save percentage, along with two shutouts which came in back-to-back games against Montreal.
With neither team having a power play success rate of over 15% in the First Round, special teams could be a determining factor this series if the scoring starts to slow down between two physical, well positioned teams.
I fully expect Carter Hart to be the goalie he has been thus far in the playoffs, and get Philadelphia over the edge to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Philadelphia in 7.
Game one is Sunday night at 7:00 ET.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins:
The matchup most of, if not all the hockey world has wanted to see for the past three years.
Two teams consistently in the top three of the entire NHL facing off in a best of seven game series for a ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals.
In the First Round we saw Tampa Bay get revenge for last year’s choke against Columbus by knocking the Blue Jackets out in just five games, this time around outhitting Columbus 211-135 combined in the series.
Boston got to the Second Round by taking down Carolina for the second year in a row, this year in five games opposed to a sweep.
Despite Tuukka Rask leaving the bubble, Jaroslav Halak proved to be able to get the job done allowing just five goals in three games played of the First Round.
This series is going to be as close as it gets, as both teams can score, both teams can defend, and both teams have above average if not elite goalies especially Tampa Bay with Andrei Vasilevskiy in net.
However, Tampa Bay needs to get their power play going as they failed to score a power play goal on ten opportunities in the First Round; while Bruins capitalized on five of nineteen power play chances. To be exact both goals for Boston in Game 5 were power play goals.
Expect this series to go down to the wire folks, with numerous games going to overtime.
Boston in 7.
Game one is tomorrow night 8:00 ET.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Vancouver Canucks:
Here it is, the first playoff series ever between the Golden Knights, and the Canucks.
After walking through Chicago in five games, Vegas finds themselves facing a young, and determined Canucks team ready to make a name for themselves.
Vancouver made a statement in the First Round by sending the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues home in six games.
Despite being outshot by nearly 65 shots in the series combined, Vancouver’s young scorers in Pettersson, J.T. Miller, and Quinn Hughes were able to score a total of 22 goals on the Blues, seven of them on the power play.
At a quick glance of this Pacific Division matchup, many would pick Vegas as the favorites, rightfully so, more playoff experience as of late, overall the team that is better suited to win a Stanley Cup; however with what we’ve seen from the Canucks, especially Goalie Jacob Markstrom who severely outperformed both Jordan Binnington, and Jake Allen of St. Louis in the First Round, do not expect Vegas to have a cake walk like they did with Chicago.
Vegas as good as they have shown they can score, have a goalie issue at hand between Marc-Andre Fleury, and Robin Lehner.
Both goalies have seen playoff action, although neither have played at the level a goalie needs to perform at for a team to win a Stanley Cup with Lehner posting a .904 save percentage, and a 2.44 goals against average, while Fleury is posting a .886 save percentage, and 2.50 goals against average.
As incredible as it’d be to see Vancouver make it to the Western Conference Finals, I think the Canucks making it to the Second Round is an accomplishment in itself this year and for right now Vegas should be able to over power a young, playoff inexperienced Canucks team.
Vegas in six.
Game one tomorrow night at 10:30 ET.
Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars:
The final series of the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a Central Division battle between the Avalanche, and the Stars.
Colorado got here after dismantling the Coyotes in five games, outscoring Arizona 22-8 (14-2 in games four, and five).
Dallas was able to take down Calgary in six games heavily due to their power play scoring five goals on sixteen opportunities, including multiple power play goals in two games.
Right now many would say that Colorado is the favorite to win the Stanley Cup, and Dallas will be no easy matchup as a physical, positionally sound team that has found their scoring touch in the last three games of the First Round.
The Colorado Avalanche are the stronger team. Period.
But as we all know that does not mean much when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Like Tampa Bay-Boston this will be a close series, however I have to give the edge to the Avalanche in this series as Colorado is the more whole team.
Colorado in six.
Game one is tonight at 8:00 ET.
Photo Source: http://www.nhl.nbcsports.com
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