Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round Predictions
(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (2) Tampa Bay Lightning
Michael McMahon: Tampa’s lightning-rod offense was shutout twice in their first round series against the Red Wings, but was able to sneak through with a gutty performance from Ben Bishop in Game 7. It will take a monumental effort to get past Carey Price and the Canadiens, who had a tougher time with the Senators than some may have expected, playing from behind in each game. It is tough to see Montreal’s run ending here. Canadiens in 6.
Lenny Rowe: This one should be a close. Slight advantage defensively for the Habs, while Tampa holds the clear advantage on offense (262 total goals to Montreal’s 221). This one is going to come down to the net. Carey Price is a playoff brick wall, while Ben Bishop is just getting used to the big show. Steven Stamkos was in a slump in round one, but if he can break out, the Habs will be in trouble. I think he’s playing through injury. Canadiens in 7.
(1) New York Rangers vs. (2) Washington Capitals
MM: Braden Holtby was as good as he needed to be to get the Caps past the first round to set up yet another Rangers-Capitals playoff series. But if the Caps want to upset the Presidents’ Trophy winner, they need a monumental performance from Alex Ovechkin, who was minus-3 in the series against the Isles. The Rangers cruised past the fleeting Penguins with relative ease, which sometimes works against a team heading into a series against an opponent riding the emotions of a Game 7 victory. This one goes out to Deef. Capitals in 7.
LR: The quick-striking Rangers meet the heavy, hard-hitting Caps. These teams are even when it comes to talent, but I feel that the edge goes to the defensive corps of the Rangers. They can all move the puck well, and everything starts from the back end. Ovechkin added a new trick to his repertoire in the last round — the pass. But, like the Canadiens and Bruins, I feel the speed of the Rangers will be too much for the Caps. Rangers in 6.
(3) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (4) Minnesota Wild
MM: I’m quite proud of myself for pegging the Wild as a team that could be trouble for a top seed like the Blues. Devyn Dubnyk was actually not as sharp in net as I expected, but he out-performed his St. Louis counterparts. That might not be as easy against the Blackhawks. I don’t expect the same lapses in net from Corey Crawford. The Wild just don’t have the firepower to keep up in this series. Blackhawks in 5.
LR: Devan Dubnyk has really helped Minnesota turn its season around. He makes the stops they need to help his team transition to offense. The Wild could take advantage of the Hawks problems between the pipes with a deep offense, but in terms of firepower, Chicago wins by a landslide. The Hawks can score on command and their defense is solid. Blackhawks in 6.
(1) Anaheim Ducks vs. (3) Calgary Flames
MM: The Ducks showed why they were the top seed in the West by blowing past the Jets. Anaheim has a deep roster with a daunting top line and Corey Perry was excellent in the first round. The Flames got past the Canucks easier than I expected them to and their youth looks very, very promising. That said, promising youth runs into solidified veteran power. This is where the loss of Mark Giordano really, really hurts. Ducks in 6.
LR: I don’t know how the Flames do it. They just win…it’s unexplainable. Against one of the best centers in Ryan Kessler, and a stacked offense, their luck might just run out. But if the Flames can bring the heat (), emotion, and physicality from round one, they might just pull it off. The Ducks have shown that they can tank for no reason. Flames in 7.