At the time of writing 3 of the 4 NHL Playoff Second Round matchups are set. The New York Islanders beat the Florida Panthers 2 to 1 in overtime on April 24 to march into Round 2. The Islanders battle last year’s Eastern Conference Champion Tampa Bay in the second round.
Dallas takes on St. Louis in Round 2. St. Louis ended Chicago’s dream of back to back titles. The third matchup might be the most intriguing when the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the top team in the NHL this season, the Washington Capitals.
A Closer Look At My NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Second Round Series Picks
New York Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Even without Steven Stamkos, their best player, Tampa Bay has been terrific during the playoffs. They dominated the Detroit Red Wings 4 to 1 in the first round. The Lightning has turned it up big time. Someone different seems to step it up for Tampa Bay in every game. On April 19 Nikita Kucherov dominated with 2 goals and an assist in the Lightning’s 3 to 2 win. On April 21, goalie Ben Bishop made 34 saves while Alex Killorn is the man who scored the goal in Tampa’s 1 to 0 win over Detroit.
The Islanders played well in the first round. The difference is that New York won 3 of their 4 games versus Florida in overtime. The Islanders should be a great team in the future. But, it’s difficult to see them beating Tampa Bay in a 7-game series this season. I have to go with the team with experience. The Lightning takes it.
Pick: Tampa Bay in 6 games
Dallas Stars vs St. Louis Blues
I like how Dallas stuck with their game plan in order to beat Minnesota 4 to 2 in Round 1. The Stars leaned on an offense that averages 3.2 goals per game, tops in NHL, and 32 shots per game, ranked third in NHL. If they have the offense clicking versus the Blues, they’ll make the series close against St. Louis.
But St. Louis finally got over the hump. The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks were one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup in 2016. St. Louis started the playoffs as an 8 to 1 underdog to take home Lord Stanley’s hardware. Beating Chicago is a huge step for a team like St. Louis who has added a decent offense to go along with their usually stellar defense. I think that the Blues carry the momentum from beating the Blackhawks into Round 2. I like St. Louis to take the series against Dallas.
Pick: St. Louis in 7 games
Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins have been hot. No doubt about that. But we have to put Pittsburgh’s 4 to 2 Round 1 series win against the New York Rangers in perspective. Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers’ future hall of fame goalie, wasn’t 100% for the series. Try as he might, he just couldn’t be effective enough to help the Rangers stave off Pitt’s great offense.
Things are going to be different versus the Caps. Washington is the most complete team in NHL. The Caps are ranked second in NHL in both goals per game at 3.0 and goals allowed per game at 2.3. They are ranked in the Top 10 in goals shot and goals shot against.
Pitt has to win this series with their offense. Washington can win the series with either their offense or their defense. It won’t be easy, but the Capitals should take it.
Pick: Washington in 7 games