New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals
The New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals have met 3 out of the last 4 postseasons. The last two meetings, New York, under coach John Tortorella’s gritty style, had to grind out series wins in 7 games. This time around, the Rangers have a new bench boss behind them. Will Alain Vigneault’s fast, playmaking style help or hurt New York continue their recent playoff streak against a tough, hard-hitting Washington team? The Capitals put up 313 hits in round 1. Rangers had only 172. Will the physicality of the Capitals be enough to wear down the President’s Trophy winners?
Mats Zuccarello is ruled out for the series with a concussion, so watch for #26 to step up and fill #36’s role on the first line. “I'm hoping to have more of an impact on this series than I did in the first round,” says Martin St. Louis, who is looking forward to playing on the first line and has been staying on the ice for extra practice after his team goes to the locker room. If practice pays off, we might see at least one St. Louis go deep in the playoffs (Sorry Blue’s fans).
Season series: New York Rangers 3-1
Hot players: Capital’s Evgeny Kuznetsov (3 goals, 1 assist, Game 7 series-winner), Ranger’s Derrick Brassard (3 goals, 4 points. 5 points against Washington in the regular season).
Prediction: Rangers in 6
Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks
Another two teams who have a bit of history in the playoffs, this is the third consecutive year where the Blackhawks meet the Wild in the postseason. Minnesota, after beating division-leading St.Louis, is hoping the third time is the charm, and, with Vezina Trophy Finalist Devan Dubnyk in net, now’s a better time than any. Dubnyk is good enough in net to present a problem to a high-power Chicago team. Ultimately, however, I think the Blackhawks elite-core can disrupt Dubnyk and dispatch the Wild yet again. Watch for Corey Crawford to start in goal for Chicago.
Season series: Chicago Blackhawks 3-2
Hot players: Patrick Kane (2 goals, 8 points), Zach Parise (3 goals, 7 points).
Prediction- Blackhawks in 7
Anaheim vs Calgary Flames
Anaheim was dominant in their 4-0 sweep of the Winnipeg Jets and now are back at it with what should be another easy series. Calgary is a head-shaking 0-15-5 at the Anaheim’s Honda Center in their last 20 regular season meetings. They lack a regular season win at Anaheim since 2004, a postseason win since 2006. If Calgary wants to stand a chance in this series, it absolutely needs to change that trend and steal a home game.
Season series: Anaheim 3-1-1, Calgary 2-3-0
Hot players: Anaheim’s Corey Perry (3 goals, 7 points in 4 games), Calgary’s Kris Russell (2 goals, 2 assists as a D-man, Avg. 27:01 TOI)
Prediction: Anaheim in 5
Montreal vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay absolutely crushed Montreal in the regular season, outscoring them 21-8 on their way to a season sweep. The Lightning barely squeaked by Detroit in round 1 and are tired off a Game 7 win, but are they the team with the firepower to beat a Montreal team heavily reliant on star goaltender Carey Price? It’s a whole different brand of hockey in the post-season, and if Price stands as a brick wall, he could quickly erase Tampa’s regular season record from their memory.
Season series: Tampa Bay 5-0
Hot players: Tyler Johnson (6 goals, 1 assist)
Prediction: Tampa Bay in 7