NHL Playoffs Predictions – Second Round Bracket: Rangers, Devils, Preds, Blues
NHL Playoffs Predictions, Second Round Bracket: Rangers Caps, Devils Flyers, Preds Coyotes, Kings Blues
It’s time to update my original NHL playoffs predictions with a new bracket for the second round. Last year, this step was completely unnecessary because my first round was perfect. This year I had a bit less confidence and it showed, though we scaled back all of our losses. All three of the series bets we made on the first round came through and we’re 30-18 after the quarterfinals. The New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and St. Louis Blues all came through in the first round. My bracket isn’t looking so hot, but both my conference champions are alive and the odds for my prediction fell from 90:1 to 14:1… get nervous Vegas.
The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils barely squeaked by after being heavily favored in the first round. The Flyers disposed of the Penguins fairly easily, and face a potential path to the Stanley Cup that includes the Pens, Devils, and Rangers. As far as the Eastern Conference goes, just sit back and enjoy the power of the mighty Atlantic.
The Western Conference features matchups of very similar teams with very similar styles. The Coyotes won one of the most exciting series of the first round while the Preds handled the Red Wings with relative ease. The Blues dominated the Sharks and the Kings took out the top team in hockey. The West is pretty unpredictable right now.
Eastern Conference Second Round
1. New York Rangers Vs 7. Washington Capitals
The New York Rangers have an advantage over the Capitals, but it’s not nearly as clearly defined as it was about a week ago. Henrik Lundqvist is still the best goalie in hockey, but his counterpart Braden Holtby is hot. After the brick wall he put up between the pipes held the defending champions at bay, the Rangers have their work cut out for them.
Nerves could be a factor for Holtby, but if he keeps up his impressive play from the first round he should be able to give the not-so-dynamic offense of the New York Rangers some trouble. On the other end, the Rangers system should be able to contain Alexander Ovechkin and company. I expect a very tight series, and I am going to tip-toe through this one with small bets. I think the Rangers will win, but not convincingly.
Rangers in Seven
5. Philadelphia Flyers Vs 6. New Jersey Devils
The Flyers power play against the Penguins was lethal. The Devils penalty kill was a display of utter futility against a bad team. The Devils must find a way to stop taking penalties or polish up the league’s best penalty kill of the regular season (and the history of the NHL). This could be the deciding factor.
Perhaps it’s the blown leads if not the special teams. New Jersey found a way to gain control of games only to let the Panthers claw their way back all series. If they think the Panthers can rally back, wait until they go up on the Flyers.
These teams know each other well, and I expect a war. The advantages seem to be with the skaters of the Flyers, but the Devils have one series-tilting factor on their side. The play of Martin Brodeur in the first overtime of Game Seven in the first round was vintage, legendary, best-goalie-ever, Marty Brodeur. If he’s in hero mode, not much else will matter. Opposing him is one of the most inconsistent goalies in the NHL. If Ilya Bryzgalov falls apart, Brodeur could do just enough to win the series.
My prediction is a humorous, exciting, Bryz-aster. Let’s all take one more spin on the Philadelphia goalie carousel and hope it pays dividends despite roster advantages that all favor Philly.
Devils in Six
Western Conference Second Round
2. St. Louis Blues Vs 8. LA Kings
The Kings took out the top team in the NHL, but I think it was largely due to good fortune. The Canucks were without Daniel Sedin for most of the series, which made Henrik Sedin as useless as Roberto Luongo. If Schneider starts and Daniel Sedin is healthy, do the Kings get through the first round? Not that it matters, but it’s something to think about.
The Blues were dominant. They controlled the entire series and as someone who watched Game One from the lower level in St. Louis, there were some blown calls that shaped the Sharks’ only win. Missed pick plays and delay of game calls resulted in a double-overtime loss. From there, the Blues never looked back. They’re playing some of their best hockey of the season.
The Blues and Kings play similar hockey. The goaltending is a relative wash and both teams play excellent defense. The Blues have the better system and the Kings have the more recognizable offensive weapons. This could come down to a home-ice advantage for the Blues shaping the series. They’re hot, had a great regular season, and should be able to contain LA’s weapons. The goaltending makes this a scary series, but I like the Blues to stay hot.
Blues in five
3. Phoenix Coyotes Vs 4. Nashville Predators
The Coyotes and Predators also play similar hockey, but I think the Preds own a slight advantage across the board. The Coyotes’ home ice advantage and hot goaltending gives them a chance, but I always like to side with the better team unless they play the Devils.
I think Pekka Rinne is the better goaltender, though Mike Smith is playing well – small advantage to the Preds.
I think the Predators’ defense is more dynamic and consistent on both sides of the ice – small advantage again.
I think the Preds’ offense is more dynamic with the addition of Alexander Radulov, particularly combined with the point play of their superstar defensemen.
I picked this matchup to be the conference finals for a reason. Both teams play incredible defense and create offense with it. Their goaltending lets them bide their time until they finally break through with their limited offensive weapons. Ultimately, I think it will be a tightly contested series, but the Preds might be too much for Phoenix across the board.
Preds in Five
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