With the Second Round set to begin tonight with the Boston Bruins v.s. Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:00 PM ET, and the St. Louis Blues v.s. Dallas Stars at 8:30 PM ET, things are just starting to heat up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Here are my predictions for the two Western Conference Second Round Series.
San Jose Sharks v.s. Colorado Avalanche:
Coming off a 3-1 series come from behind win over the Vegas Golden Knights, the San Jose Sharks are riding a huge momentum boost; but so are the Colorado Avalanche who took down the Calgary Flames in five games.
Colorado certainly has the edge on the score board, and shots for per game, however the Sharks have a better power play unit and have won significantly more face-offs than the Avalanche, who have the worst face-off win percentage in the playoffs.
In net Martin Jones has been solid since being pulled twice, including saving 58/59 shots in a double overtime Game 6 victory.
However, Grubauer has an incredible save percentage of .939, and a goals against average of 1.90, both in the top three of the playoffs.
The deciding factor for me is whether or not the Sharks can play like they did in the last three games of the Vegas series, along with Martin Jones playing like a brick wall.
With the Sharks having more fire power, and being a deeper team than Colorado, I have to go with the Sharks in seven over the Avalanche.
The Avalanche certainly will not roll over, although I see the Sharks having the edge, especially with home ice.
Prediction: San Jose 4-3
St. Louis Blues v.s. Dallas Stars:
As expected, the St. Louis Blues took down the Winnipeg Jets in six games, however we saw the Dallas Stars completely shut down the Nashville Predators, and expose Pekka Rinne resulting in him allowing nine goals between two games.
The Blues are also producing on the power play with the fourth best power play unit in the playoffs, which will create an interesting match up as Dallas has not allowed a power play goal, shutting down every single one of the Predators fifteen power play chances.
This series will be a goaltending battle.
It is certainly arguable that the Blues would not even be in the playoffs if not for Jordan Binnington, and the same goes for the Stars’ with Ben Bishop in net as well.
So far this playoffs, Binnington has a save percentage of .908, and a goals against average of 2.63, and Bishop has a save percentage of .945, and a goals against average of 1.90.
Clearly so far Bishop has outplayed Binnington, however with both teams being strong defensive teams I fully expect Binnington’s stats to improve this series.
If the Stars’ dangerous line of Benn, Radulov, and Seguin can get rolling as they did in the first round, the Blues will be in trouble, especially with Bishop playing exceptionally well.
However, I have looked at the Blues as a spoiler this playoffs, just like the Hurricanes so I would not be surprised if the Blues find a way to stop this line, and have Binnington take control of the series.
St. Louis does have home ice, although I have to go with the Dallas Stars from seeing their strong defensive play, and ability to expose a Vezina Trophy winning goalie in the First Round.
Prediction: Dallas 4-2
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