NHL

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round Predictions

The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs should be full of closely contested contests this season. Check out our picks.

May 6, 2024

We’re into the second round of this season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs: one series has already begun and the puck is set to drop for the other three in the coming days. Below is a series preview for each of the NHL’s four second round series, accompanied by predictions and recent odds from Tipico Sportsbook.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division 

Panthers (-170 odds to win series) vs. Bruins (+140)

This is a rematch of last year’s first round series, which the Panthers won in seven games as substantial underdogs to shock the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins. This year, Boston came eerily close to having the same script unfold in a second straight first round series.

Just like last year, the Bruins took a 3-1 series lead, lost Game 5 at home, then were pushed to Game 7. Luckily for the Bruins, they were facing a Maple Leafs team that lacked the mental fortitude and physical toughness to complete the comeback, unlike last year’s Panthers — who have gotten even better this season. David Pastrnak scored the Game 7 overtime winner for the Bruins against Toronto, coming up big in the clutch after leading the team with 47 goals and 110 points in the regular season. Brad Marchand was Boston’s leading scorer in the first round of the playoffs with eight points.

Florida had an easier time against a tougher first round opponent, beating the Lightning in five games. The Panthers got excellent goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky, while Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe led the team with nine points apiece, all while Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) finalist Aleksander Barkov provided his usual stellar two-way play while chipping in five points. Florida is hoping for more from Sam Reinhart, who finished second in the regular season with 57 goals but was limited to three goals without an assist in the first round.

Jeremy Swayman was strong in net for Boston in the first round, but Bobrovsky has a superior track record. Both teams have star power up front and well-rounded groups of defensemen, but Florida’s deeper all around, even with second-line center Sam Bennett (upper body) set to miss Monday’s Game 1 in Sunrise, Florida.

Prediction: Panthers in 6

Metropolitan Division

 

Rangers (-140) vs. Hurricanes (+120)

This is a rematch of a 2022 second round series, which the Rangers won in seven games. This year’s Rangers team is a far superior version compared to the one that beat Carolina in seven games without home-ice advantage two years ago. The Rangers have home ice this time after winning the Presidents’ Trophy with the best regular-season record.

Artemi Panarin had a career year for New York with 49 goals and 120 points in the regular season, 2020 first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere has developed substantially over the last two years, and their linemate Vincent Trocheck is playing on the Rangers’ side of this rivalry after being a member of the Hurricanes when these two teams faced off in the playoffs two years ago.

Adam Fox, Chris Kreider and Game 1 hero Mika Zibanejad are other key figures who are still around from New York’s trip to the Eastern Conference Final two years ago, and most importantly, the Rangers still have Igor Shesterkin in net. Shesterkin ran his streak of consecutive playoff games with three or fewer goals allowed to 28 straight in Sunday’s 4-3 Game 1 win at Madison Square Garden.

The biggest difference for the Hurricanes compared to their last postseason loss to the Rangers is the addition of proven playoff performer Jake Guentzel, whom Carolina acquired from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline. Guentzel has 35 goals and 63 points in 64 career playoff games. Otherwise, coach Rod Brind’Amour’s Hurricanes have a familiar core led by Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. Carolina employs a relentless forecheck and activates its defensemen, which means the Hurricanes tend to have the puck for most of the game. This style has led to six consecutive playoff berths and three straight 50-win seasons but no games won in the Conference Final over that span.

Both teams made short work of inferior opponents in the first round, as the Rangers swept the Capitals and the Hurricanes beat the Islanders in five games. Carolina began this series as the betting favorite, but New York is now favored after winning the series opener. The Rangers’ puck movement punished Carolina’s aggressiveness in Game 1, especially on the power play, where New York took just 21 seconds combined to score two goals.

Special teams will continue to be a key story in this series, as both teams ranked in the top three on both the power play and penalty kill in the regular season. The Rangers having home-ice advantage could prove critical, as the Hurricanes are 15-4 at home in the playoffs since the start of the 2022 postseason but just 4-12 on the road.

Prediction: Rangers in 7 

Western Conference

Central Division

Stars (-130) vs. Avalanche (+105)

This series will pit Dallas’ superior depth against Colorado’s star power. The Stars won’t get much rest before Tuesday’s Game 1, as they took until Game 7 on Sunday to put away the defending Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights. Wyatt Johnston was the Stars’ best skater in that series, as the 20-year-old led the team in both goals (four) and points (seven). He was also one of six Stars to reach 60 points in the regular season.

In contrast, Colorado has been off since last Tuesday, when the Avalanche finished off the Jets in five games. Unsurprisingly, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar led the team’s outburst of offense in that series, with nine points apiece. Those are the three best players in this series, and Valeri Nuchushkin will be a player to watch as well after potting seven goals against Winnipeg.

The key edge for the Stars in this series comes in net. Jake Oettinger was outstanding against Vegas, posting a 1.95 GAA and .925 save percentage. In 35 career postseason appearances, he has a 2.49 GAA and .918 save percentage.

Avalanche goalie Alexander Georgiev is great when he’s on, but confidence is a fickle mistress for Georgiev. He gave up at least four goals in five of his last six regular season appearances and allowed seven in the Game 1 loss to the Jets before finding his game — he allowed only eight goals in the last four games of that series. If Georgiev plays anywhere near as well as Oettinger, this could be a relatively easy series for the Avalanche.

Prediction: Avalanche in 7

Pacific Division

Canucks (+210) vs. Oilers (-270)

Vancouver was lucky to get out of the first round, as the Canucks were outplayed by the Predators for much of their six-game series win. The Canucks also lost star goalie Thatcher Demko (knee), and while 23-year-old Latvian Arturs Silovs stepped up with a 28-save shutout to put Nashville away in Game 6, Vancouver is a massive underdog in this series despite having home-ice advantage.

Brock Boeser led the team with four goals and tied J.T. Miller for the team lead with six points against Nashville, but the Canucks will need more from Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes to keep pace with Edmonton’s star-driven offense.

The Oilers put the Kings away in five games, and the usual suspects led the way for Edmonton in the first round. Connor McDavid leads all postseason skaters with 12 points, while Leon Draisaitl has five goals among his 10 points. Zach Hyman has been the biggest beneficiary of McDavid’s elite playmaking, as Hyman had seven goals against Los Angeles after a 54-goal regular season.

Defenseman Evan Bouchard has outplayed Hughes so far in the playoffs, as Bouchard has nine points to Hughes’ five. Even goalie Stuart Skinner has stepped up for Edmonton in the playoffs, notching a shutout in Game 4 of the first round. The Canucks got away with letting Nashville carry play because the Predators struggled to finish their chances, but Edmonton’s elite talent is unlikely to have that problem.

Prediction: Oilers in 5

Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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