With round one in the books (and round two already begun thanks to very odd scheduling by the NHL) it’s time to check back in on the advanced stats vs. eye test debate.
Before the playoffs started we showed you three sets of predictions: one based on numbers, one based on eyes, and one based on both. They mostly agreed on each series to varying levels, but there were some differences. Here’s the first round scorecard.
On this edition of the podcast, we break down every second-round playoff series and make our predictions.
Also, we discuss if and when the Ducks will fire coach Bruce Boudreau. And if there’s been a changing of the guard among Western Conference powers.
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[Music: Metz-Headache; Quicksand-Omission]
SERIES STARTS: Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, in Washington.
THE CAPITALS WIN IF…
It’s almost hard to believe this needs to be said, but the Capitals really need to get their offense going in the second round. Washington scored twice in the final three games of the first round, and while that was against an admittedly stingy Philadelphia Flyers club that had otherworldly goaltending from Michal Neuvirth, that’s uncharacteristic of this Capitals team and now isn’t the time for the offense to start to sputter. Alex Ovechkin came to life early, but he was actually held off the board in two straight elimination games as the Flyers made the series much closer than it should have been. If it wasn’t for Nicklas Backstrom’s Game 6 goal, the Capitals very well could have gone to seven games.
SERIES STARTS: Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET, in Tampa Bay.
THE LIGHTNING WIN IF…
It’s a testament to the Lightning’s depth of roster talent that, without their best player Steven Stamkos and their second-best defenseman Anton Stralman, they still shoved aside the Detroit Red Wings in five games in Round 1. Tampa reached the Stanley Cup final a year ago for a reason. If it was a one- or two-man team, that wouldn’t have been possible.
It’s deja vu, except it isn’t.
Many powerhouse St. Louis Blues teams have disappointed with shockingly early playoff exits in the past five seasons. They got swept by the Los Angeles Kings in Round 2 of the 2012 playoffs; led L.A. 2-0 in the series only to lose in the first round in 2013; led the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 only to lose in the first round in 2014; and bowed out to the No. 7 seed Minnesota Wild in six games in the first round of 2015.
A loss at home to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 tonight thus wouldn’t blow our hair back. At this point, early-round disappointments feel like second nature for the Blues. There’s a difference this time, however. The stakes are higher. Important heads stand to roll if St. Louis buckles under the pressure once more and loses a series it led 3-1.
By Mo Cranker
With the end of the regular season, over half of the teams in the NHL are gearing up for what they hope will be an extended playoff run.
For the teams that miss, though, it’s more about reflecting on a failed season and looking forward to and preparing for the next season.
Whichever side your team falls on, there’s probably going to be an open roster spot, or two, ripe for the taking due to players retiring, free agency or trades.
Here’s a list of 10 prospects that are ready to earn a roster spot and make an impact on their big league club next season.
SERIES STARTS: Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET, in Anaheim.
HOW THEY WIN:
DUCKS: If Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry aren’t the best 1-2 punch in the league, they’re the best when it comes to offense and getting under the skin of the opposition. They don’t always play on the same line, but when they do it’s magic. With Getzlaf distributing and Perry finishing, Anaheim has the No. 2 power play in the league and No. 4 since 2005-06, when those two became regulars.
Everyone knows the captain of the winning team gets the Stanley Cup first. He gets to take it from commissioner Gary Bettman and have his well-earned moment with it. But who gets it next is always interesting to watch. Which grizzled veteran or sentimental favorite deserves the captain’s hand-off of the Stanley Cup this year? Our picks.
ANAHEIM DUCKS: It would be apropos if Ryan Getzlaf passed the Cup to Corey Perry, even though both won it as sophomores in 2007. But we suspect RYAN KESLER will sneak in there.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: The Hawks lack an obvious Cup-less elder statesman. If CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF cracks the lineup, he’s worthy. He’s 33 and lost in the 2011 final with Vancouver.
DALLAS STARS: Would Jamie Benn hand the Cup off to grizzled vet Jason Spezza? It’s more likely Benn gives it to TYLER SEGUIN first and honors their bromance.