UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Predictions For Second Round of Stanley Cup Playoffs

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has finally wrapped up, but not with a lack of stress for fans of the Bruins and Maple Leafs. For the most part, every series came and went without much challenge. The Vegas Golden Knights easily disposed of the Los Angeles Kings in four games, and the same can be said about how the San Jose Sharks took care of the Anaheim Ducks. The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Minnesota Wild in five games. The Tampa Bay Lightning also beat the New Jersey Devils in five games, while Pittsburgh, Washington, and Nashville all won their series in six games. The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs were the only seven game series of the first round, with Boston winning the deciding game. This first round sets up a second round packed with great matchups, all of which could go the distance. Here is what you can expect out of the four second round series.

San Jose Sharks vs Vegas Golden Knights
I have been an open doubter of the Golden Knights all season long. I thought there was no chance that they could sustain that level of play with the roster they had, however they have not only won their division in their first year of existence, they will be playing in the second round. Marc-Andre Fleury has been the best series through round one, with a GAA of 0.65 and a save percentage of .977. However, he will be going up against a much more effective offense in San Jose. The Sharks are tied for second in the NHL for scoring, averaging four goals per game through four games. In addition, the Sharks have, statistically, the second-best goalie in the playoffs. Jones, like Fleury, is undefeated in the playoffs so far, both at 4-0, and boasts a GAA of 1.00 and a save percentage of .970. This series is about the goaltenders, and while San Jose has the better offense, I trust Fleury to steal more games.
Prediction: Golden Knights in seven 

Winnipeg Jets vs Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators won the President’s Trophy for a reason. They are far and away the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They had a more difficult time with the Colorado Avalanche than I anticipated, but they still got the job done. Nashville should have had a cakewalk to the Stanley Cup Finals, but Winnipeg won’t let that happen. Winnipeg can’t compete with Nashville on the blue line, however the Preds can’t hold a candle to the Jets forwards. Both teams have elite goalies, so this series will come down to which forwards can make plays. I think the Jets’ combination of Patrick Laine, Mark Scheifle, and Blake Wheeler produce enough to put them over the Predators.
Prediction: Jets in seven 

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals
This will be the series everyone is talking about. There is no playoff matchup with a more defined narrative than this one. Over the last decade, two players have been universally viewed as the best in the NHL: Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. The Capitals have never made it past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Three times Crosby’s Penguins have faced Ovechkin’s Capitals, with the Caps holding home ice each time. However, each time the Penguins came out on top, including both of the last two seasons as they went on to win the Stanley Cup. However, this is a new year with new hopes for the Capitals, and after switching to Braden Holtby in net they rolled over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Pittsburgh struggled in net throughout most of the season, but Matt Murray has been fantastic in the postseason. As much as I would love for Ovechkin to finally reach the conference finals, I learned my lesson from picking them in the past.
Prediction: Penguins in six

Boston Bruins vs Tampa Bay Lightning
This series, much like the Jets vs Predators in the West, could very well decide who goes to the Stanley Cup Final. These were the top two teams in points in the East during the regular season. Both Boston and Tampa Bay boast lethal top lines, with depth on the blue line. Tampa Bay has one huge advantage, and that’s in net. Andrei Vasilevskiy is a Vezina Trophy nominee as top goalie, and is top five in every statistical category of the postseason. Rask stumbled through out the end of the series against Toronto, and could end up being a problem for the Bruins. However, after the fantastic third period in game seven against the Leafs, the Bruins have all the momentum. I give Boston the win in a tight series.
Prediction: Bruins in seven