It’s late May. The climate is getting nicer and nicer however all anybody desires to be is inside a chilly rink. And who can actually blame them? It’s the most effective time of the yr — Stanley Cup playoff time — and issues are getting fairly attention-grabbing.
Seven groups have punched their ticket to the second round with not solely a division crown on the road but additionally the goal of taking one step nearer to discovering out who will win the sports activities world’s best trophy. The remaining groups are a who’s who of NHL royalty. The Avalanche, Golden Knights, Hurricanes, Lightning and Bruins had been all within the high 10 in 2021 with the Islanders simply on the surface trying in.
Speaking of the Bruins, the 2019 Stanley Cup finalists are at all times within the combine, and let’s not overlook the reigning champs from Tampa Bay are trying poised for a future. Both of these golf equipment will face stiff checks towards two groups you’ll be able to by no means rely out: the Islanders and Hurricanes, respectively.
The first round was simply good, previous playoff hockey with numerous motion, together with loopy last-second targets and big-time saves, and the second round’s slate of best-of-seven series are positive to show issues up one other notch.
What will occur within the second round and past is anybody’s guess. Will Vegas lastly get its Cup? Are the Lightning the NHL’s subsequent nice dynasty? Or will franchises which have been ready many years lastly raise the Stanley Cup once more? The reply is, no person is aware of … and that is what makes the playoffs oh, so particular.
- NHL playoffs bracket 2021
- NHL playoff predictions: East Division
- NHL playoff predictions: Central Division
- NHL playoff predictions: West Division
- NHL playoff predictions: North Division
- NHL playoff up to date odds to win Stanley Cup
- Sporting News’ Stanley Cup predictions
NHL playoffs bracket 2021
NHL playoff predictions: East Division
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (4) New York Islanders
If this was a standard season, there is a good likelihood this could have been the Eastern Conference remaining matchup. Instead, the Bruins and Islanders are going through off within the second round within the East Division — and the series positive to be a doozy.
The Islanders are sending the Nassau Coliseum off in type because the staff not solely beat the division champion Penguins in six video games but additionally did it by clinching at residence for the primary time since 1993. By the way in which, the staff they despatched packing 28 years in the past additionally hailed from the Steel City. The Boys from Beantown, in the meantime, dispatched the Capitals in 5 video games by outscoring the “Great 8,” Alex Ovechkin, and crew 16-10.
This series pairs two evenly matched golf equipment — as Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy mentioned: “We’re playing ourselves a little bit” — who’re enjoying high quality hockey on the excellent time. Both are sporting related GF/GP (3.20 for the Bruins and three.50 for the Islanders) and GA/GP (2.00 for Boston and a pair of.67 for New York) within the playoffs. It’s just about how they lined up of their regular-season series, during which the Islanders gained 5-2-1 however solely outscored the Bruins 20-18 and managed simply three targets within the final three video games.
|Jan. 18||Bruins||Islanders||NYI, 1-0|
|Feb. 13||Bruins||Islanders||NYI, 4-2|
|Feb. 25||Bruins||Islanders||NYI, 7-2|
|March 9||Bruins||Islanders||NYI, 2-1 (SO)|
|March 25||Islanders||Bruins||NYI, 4-3 (OT)|
|April 15||Islanders||Bruins||BOS, 4-1|
|April 16||Islanders||Bruins||BOS, 3-0|
|May 10||Islanders||Bruins||BOS, 3-2 (OT)|
X-factor: Taylor Hall
There are a lot of gamers, on both sides, who will play large roles, however Hall is the one who may very well be the important thing. After being acquired by Boston on the deadline, the ahead notched 4 targets in three video games towards the Islanders — which had been additionally the Bruins’ solely three wins of the season series. He additionally has a historical past of enjoying properly towards the Long Island staff with 14 targets (tied for his second-most towards a staff) and 24 factors in 27 profession video games.
The huge quantity: 26.3
With the squads evenly matched at 5v5, this series may come all the way down to particular groups, and the Bruins’ energy play was clicking on all cylinders towards the Capitals. In 5 video games, Boston scored 5 targets in 19 alternatives, which interprets to 26.3 p.c effectivity with the person benefit The Islanders’ penalty kill struggled towards the Penguins’ energy play, permitting three targets in 12 alternatives for 75 p.c efficacy.
SN’s prediction: Bruins in 6
East Division second-round schedule
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Sat., May 29||at Boston||8 p.m. (NBC, SN360, TVA Sports)|
|Mon., May 31||at Boston||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports)|
|Thurs., June 3||at New York||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Sat., June 5||at New York||7:15 p.m. (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|*Mon., June 7||at Boston||TBD|
|*Wed., June 9||at New York||TBD|
|*Fri., June 11||at Boston||TBD|
* If vital
East Division second-round series odds
|Boston Bruins||-225||New York Islanders||+178|
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) New York Islanders
- SN’s decide: Islanders in 6
- Series end result: Islanders in 6
(2) Washington Capitals vs. (3) Boston Bruins
- SN’s decide: Bruins in 5
- Series end result: Bruins in 5
NHL playoff predictions: Central Division
(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning
Both groups closed out their first-round series in six video games towards formidable foes.
The defending champions dispatched the Panthers within the first Sunshine State Showdown within the postseason, backed by the return of Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Kucherov missed your complete common season following hip surgical procedure however got here again with a flourish as he potted a league-best 11 factors (three targets, eight assists). Stamkos missed the final 16 video games of the common season with a lower-body damage after which returned to chip in eight factors (three targets, 5 assists).
Jon Cooper’s squad is among the strongest groups on the again finish, and it is backstopped by 2021 Vezina Trophy contender Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Russian netminder earned 31 of the staff’s 36 wins within the common season and noticed his save proportion tick up from .925 to .929 within the postseason.
Carolina will give the Lightning all they’ll deal with on this series, led by fiery bench boss Rod Brind’Amour. Not solely does he have younger studs Sebastian Aho (5 targets in six video games), Martin Necas (5 factors) and Andrei Svechnikov (66.84 Corsi For proportion at 5v5, per Natural Stat Trick) at his disposal, however grizzled vets like Jordan Staal (4 targets) are getting issues performed too.
And these are simply the blokes up entrance. On the blue line, Dougie Hamilton has develop into “Playoff Dougie Hamilton”; he has chipped in 4 factors and elevated everybody else’s recreation and puck possession. That’s an enormous deal contemplating Jaccob Slavin solely suited up in three video games due to damage however put the puck on web for Aho’s overtime-winner deflection in Game 6.
X-factor: Alex Nedeljkovic
Speaking of Carolina’s again finish, probably the greatest tales this season has been Nedeljkovic. The Parma, Ohio, native has stabilized the Hurricanes’ web with a .922 save proportion and a shutout within the postseason. That quantity represents a slight dip from his regular-season .932, however that is anticipated when the depth is turned up. While each save percentages are fairly sparkly, they pale compared to his .962 save proportion towards the Lightning within the common season.
The huge quantity: 14.27
While the Lightning certainly have firepower, Carolina led the 16 groups within the first round in Expected Goals For (xGF) at 5v5 (14.27), per Natural Stat Trick. If you are considering that is a fluke as a result of they performed the Predators within the first round, that may be a no. They had been second-best this season with a 117.09 at 5v5. By comparability, Tampa Bay was at 98.57 within the common season and 9.76 in its first-round assembly with the Panthers.
SN’s prediction: Hurricanes in 6
Central Division second-round schedule
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Sun., May 30||at Carolina||5 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports)|
|Tues., June 1||at Carolina||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports)|
|Thurs., June 3||at Tampa Bay||8 p.m. (USA, SN, TVA Sports)|
|Sat., June 5||at Tampa Bay||4 p.m. (USA, SN, TVA Sports)|
|*Tues., June 8||at Carolina||TBD|
|*Thurs., June 10||at Tampa Bay||TBD|
|*Sat., June 12||at Carolina||TBD|
Central Division second-round series odds
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-134||Carolina Hurricanes||+110|
(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (4) Nashville Predators
- SN’s decide: Hurricanes in 5
- Series end result: Hurricanes in 6
(2) Florida Panthers vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning
- SN’s decide: Lightning in 6
- Series end result: Lightning in 6
NHL playoff predictions: West Division
(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (2) Vegas Golden Knights
Buckle up. Inject this series into everybody’s veins. Every single thrilling analogy you’ll be able to consider is that this series, as a result of it’ll be an absolute magnificence. These two groups completed 1-2 within the NHL with the Avalanche profitable their first Presidents’ Trophy since 2001 — which was additionally the final time they gained the Stanley Cup.
The Avs have been off for a bit after sweeping the Blues in completely dominating vogue. Normally, it will be simple sufficient to say they outscored St. Louis 20-7, however while you see that they scored 5.00 targets per recreation and solely gave up 1.75, properly, these are simply mighty spectacular numbers. They additionally scored on 50 p.c of their power-play alternatives, so yep, they seem to be a juggernaut.
Nathan MacKinnon continues to show he belongs within the dialog of greatest gamers in immediately’s recreation; he scored 9 factors (six targets) within the sweep. Captain Gabriel Landeskog added eight factors and the third linemate, Mikko Rantanen, had seven factors. It’ll be attention-grabbing to see how secondary scoring goes with out the suspended Nazem Kadri, however when you’ve gotten blue-liners like Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Devon Toews and Ryan Graves including tallies whereas additionally shutting down the opposition, that helps to even issues out.
Don’t simply write Colorado’s ticket to the semis, nonetheless. Vegas is simply as spectacular and confronted a extra decided foe within the Wild within the first round. The upstart Minnesota squad pushed the Golden Knights to a Game 7 however Vegas posted a 6-2 win backed by the return of game-winning goalscorer Max Pacioretty. The ahead, by the way in which, led Nevada’s staff with eight factors (six targets, two assists) towards the Avalanche within the regular-season series.
He’ll add yet one more layer of offensive punch alongside perennial Selke Trophy contender Mark Stone, Alex Tuch, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Game 7 hat-trick scorer Mattias Janmark. While they’ve a formidable entrance 12, the Golden Knights even have the likes of Shea Theodore, Alex Pietrangelo and Zach Whitecloud on the blue line.
Then there’s the dynamic duo between the pipes. Vezina Trophy contender Marc-Andre Fleury carried the load and began each recreation towards the Wild, boasting a .931 save proportion (.001 decrease than his 2021 regular-season save proportion towards Colorado in seven begins). His 1.71 goals-against common is only a few ticks higher than Avalanche backstop Philipp Grubauer’s. But this is the factor: If Fleury ought to start to wrestle, bench boss Pete DeBoer has Robin Lehner to show to, and, properly, that is not a foul factor.
X-factor: Marc-Andre Fleury
There’s actually just one participant who can management this series and he goes by the nickname “Flower” (however, you understand, a troublesome flower, like a snapdragon). If Fleury does Fleury issues — like twice shutting out the Avalanche this season — he can flip this series that is anticipated to be a barnburner on its head.
The huge quantity: 58.98 p.c
The Avalanche weren’t solely dominant on the scoreboard, however Jared Bednar’s crew was additionally the highest puck possession staff within the common season with a Corsi For proportion of 58.98 at 5v5 (according to Natural Stat Trick). They additionally out-chanced the remainder of the West Division with a 60.53 Scoring Chances For proportion coupled with scoring 66 High-Danger Goals. Vegas scored 69 however gave up 67; Colorado gave up simply 42.
In the series towards the Blues, the Avalanche did not let up; they managed play 58.29 p.c of the time and scored six HDGF whereas solely permitting one towards. In the common season, they led the division with a 52.59 p.c towards the Golden Knights however the groups had been even in high-danger targets.
SN’s decide: Golden Knights in 7
West Division second-round schedule
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Sun., May 30||at Colorado||8 p.m. (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Wed., June 2||at Colorado||10 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Fri., June 4||at Vegas||10 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Sun., June 6||at Vegas||8:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports)|
|*Tues., June 8||at Colorado||TBD|
|*Thurs., June 10||at Vegas||TBD|
|*Sat., June 12||at Colorado||TBD|
* If vital
West Division second-round series odds
|Colorado Avalanche||-194||Vegas Golden Knights||+156|
(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (4) St. Louis Blues
- SN’s decide: Avalanche in 5
- Series end result: Avalanche in 4
(2) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (3) Minnesota Wild
- SN’s decide: Golden Knights in 6
- Series end result: Golden Knights in 7
NHL playoff predictions: North Division
(3) Winnipeg Jets vs. (1) Toronto Maple Leafs or (4) Montreal Canadiens
Stay tuned . . .
North Division second-round schedule
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Wed., June 2||TBD||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Fri., June 4||TBD||7:30 p.m. (USA, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Sun., June 6||TBD||6 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports)|
|Mon., June 7||TBD||TBD|
|*Wed., June 9||TBD||TBD|
|*Fri., June 11||TBD||TBD|
|*Sun., June 13||TBD||TBD|
(1) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (4) Montreal Canadiens
- SN’s decide: Maple Leafs in 7
- Series end result: TBD
(2) Edmonton Oilers vs. (3) Winnipeg Jets
- SN’s decide: Oilers in 5
- Series end result: Jets in 4
NHL playoff up to date odds to win Stanley Cup
(Odds courtesy of FanDuel as of May 29)
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+550|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+600|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+700|
|New York Islanders||+1200|
Sporting News’ Stanley Cup predictions
Stanley Cup semifinals
|(1) Golden Knights vs. (4) Bruins||Golden Knights in 6|
|(2) Hurricanes vs. (3) Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs in 6|
Stanley Cup Final
|(1) Golden Knights vs. (3) Maple Leafs||Golden Knights in 6|
|Conn Smythe Trophy||Marc-Andre Fleury|