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The Mass Media

Predictions for the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

After a couple of surprises in the first round, the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are ready to begin, with a bevy of match-ups that should make for a wild ride.

In the Eastern Conference, it will be the New York Rangers taking on the Ottawa Senators, and the Washington Capitals will try to dethrone the Pittsburgh Penguins. The west also has some interesting match-ups, as the Anaheim Ducks will face the Edmonton Oilers, and the St. Louis Blues will try to send the Nashville Predators packing. All four of these series have seven game potential, which should make for some fun games between these final eight teams, one of which will hoist the Stanley Cup.

Here is who you can expect to head to the Conference Finals on each side:

New York Rangers vs Ottawa Senators

This series is probably the most cut and dry of the group. Yes, Ottawa did defeat the feisty Bruins in six games, but they didn’t escape without a few bruises. Mark Borowiecki is currently listed as day-to-day, as he was last seen in Game Two against Boston. Getting him back would be a boost for Ottawa, but it’s far from a game changer. The Rangers are faster and better in the net at the moment, on top of having more offensive skill. All Ottawa can do is hope that the 1-3-1 defense they run is able to confuse New York like it did Boston, which it is known to do. However, New York just looks too ready for a playoff run to be eliminated at this point. New York over Ottawa in six games.

Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins

One of the biggest surprises of the second round was how tough of a time it was for the Washington Capitals to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs. This was a series most believed would be a sweep. However it ended up going to six games, with five out of the six games being decided by one goal, and four of the games going to OT. The general consensus was that this would be the year that the Capitals would make it to the Stanley Cup, as they were just too good to be denied coming out of the Eastern Conference. However, Toronto exposed that flaw that the Capitals always wind up having around this time of year: they just aren’t ready for the playoffs. The Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and always bring their best during the postseason. Washington looks poised for another postseason let down, and the Penguins will beat them in six games.

Anaheim Ducks vs Edmonton Oilers

The Anaheim Ducks are coming off of a sweep over the Calgary Flames, with only Game Four being decided by more than one goal. Anaheim struggled with some goaltending problems in Game Three, after John Gibson was replaced by Jonathan Bernier, resulting in a three-goal defect being erased, and the Ducks winning in overtime. However, Gibson returned to the net in Game Four, and stopped 36 of 37 shots on net. The Oilers, however, displayed tremendous poise in their series win over the Sharks. After taking a 2-0 series lead at home, they would see that disappear as they lost the next two games on the road, including a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of the Sharks. Many youthful teams would just fall to the pressure and seemingly low expectations, but not this Oilers team. They went on to win the next two games, and even close out the series on the road against San Jose. This series should be a dogfight. But I expect the Ducks to win it in seven games, as they snap their losing streak in Game Seven that has spanned over the last four seasons.

St. Louis Blues vs Nashville Predators
This will be the best series of the second round. Both teams have it all: great defense, great scoring prowess, and great in goal, not to mention the talented man behind the bench. St. Louis was able to eliminate Minnesota in five games, despite many expecting it to be an extremely competitive, back-and-forth series. Nashville, on the other hand, gave us the shock of the playoffs, as they eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks, whom many pinned as the favorites in the West. The grit of these two teams and the way both are built around the blue line are what make this series so exciting. The seven-game set will come down to who can score more, and I think the Predators will continue to ride their hot streak past the Blues in seven games.