Here’s a look at the second-round matchups in the NHL playoffs and a prediction on the outcome of each best-of-7 series.
Tampa Bay vs. Montreal
This is not the matchup the Canadiens wanted. Tampa went 5-0-0 against Montreal during the regular season. But the Canadiens have Carey Price, the best player in the league, on top of his game. Price was outstanding in Montreal’s Game 6 clincher over Ottawa. Ben Bishop, meanwhile, looked shaky for stretches of the first round against Detroit. Steven Stamkos didn’t score a single goal in the first round. That will have to change against Price. Tyler Johnson (six goals) can’t carry the offense for another round.
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How Tampa will win: Launching their speed game often.
How Montreal will win: Getting Carey Price in uniform.
Best first-round players: Tyler Johnson, Carey Price.
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Prediction: Tampa in seven.
Washington vs. New York Rangers
You won’t find two more different teams in the second round than Washington and New York. The Capitals play pickup-truck hockey. The Rangers prefer a Formula One style. The Capitals like to grind in the offensive zone and box out opponents in front of their net. The Rangers get up and down the rink as quickly as anyone. Mats Zuccarello is out indefinitely after taking a puck to the head in the first round. But the Rangers have enough skill and speed without Zuccarello to scoot around the bigger and heavier Capitals. Braden Holtby will have to be Washington’s best player.
How Washington will win: Converting on the power play.
How the Rangers will win: Using their depth.
Best first-round players: Nicklas Backstrom, Derick Brassard.
Prediction: Rangers in five.
If styles truly make fights, then the Rangers-Capitals series should be a main event.
Calgary vs. Anaheim
Break out the body armor. Both teams love to bang. Anaheim dispatched Winnipeg in four games, giving the Ducks more time to heal up than the Flames, who went six against the Canucks. Anaheim’s advantage is in the middle. The Flames will have a tough time negating the 1-2 punch of Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, two heavy, nasty centers. Sean Monahan is a good young pivot. But the 20-year-old Calgary center will not enjoy playing playoff hockey against either of the Ryans.
How Calgary will win: Trailing early and coming back in the third as usual.
How Anaheim will win: Grinding down low.
Best first-round players: Corey Perry, Jiri Hudler.
Prediction: Anaheim in six.
The Ducks have had time to rest before facing the Flames after winning their first-round series over the Jets in four games.
Minnesota vs. Chicago
The skating in this series might not be contained within 200 feet. Both teams excel at up-and-down hockey. The pace will be through the roof. As usual, Zach Parise was Minnesota’s best player in the first round. He will have to continue that trend against Chicago’s depth, skill, and experience. Duncan Keith (2-5—7, 32:03 average time on ice per game in the first round) is chasing another ring and his first Conn Smythe Trophy. The Blackhawks do not, however, have stability in net. Corey Crawford, sent packing by Scott Darling for stretches of the first round, will start the second round as the No. 1. Joel Quenneville won’t hesitate to go with Darling again.
How Minnesota will win: Getting goalie Devan Dubnyk to steal some games.
How Chicago will win: Playing its usual high-tempo game.
Best first-round players: Zach Parise, Duncan Keith.
Prediction: Chicago in six.
The Blackhawks eliminated the Predators in the first round while the Wild defeated the Blues.