2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – Round 2 Predictions
The Stanley Cup Playoffs now move into round two. The first round was filled with surprises, and to be honest with you my predictions on this round were quite embarrassing. In a league where anything can happen, the first round sure proved that. Another factor is the leagues equal balance. It was evident in the first round where many of the series had no clear favorites. I don’t think the second round will be any easier to predict, but I will give it a shot.
Tampa Bay Lightning (2) verses New York Islanders (WC1)
Tampa returns to their second straight season of advancing to the second round. The Lightning is a team that is currently facing adversity. With superstar Steven Stamkos out with an injury, it is up in the air how far the Lightning can keep this going. Young stars such as Tyler Johnson stepped up their play in the first round and the result was a convincing win over the Detroit Red Wings. The New York Islanders grinded and fought their way to a six game victory over the young Florida Panthers. John Tavares completely dominated the series. The goaltending by Thomas Greiss was also very impressive. The play of Tavares must be off the charts for the Islanders to beat the Lightning. On the other hand the Lightning must have exceptional play from goaltender Ben Bishop to continue their playoff run. My Pick: New York Islanders in 7.
Washington Capitals (1) versus Pittsburgh Penguins (2)
Pittsburgh made short business of the New York Rangers knocking them out in just five games. The Washington Capitals bolted out to a 3-0 lead on the Philadelphia Flyers, and had to fight to win the series in six games. Washington was scoring in bunches to start the series, but in games 4-6 the scoring dried up. For the Capitals to be successful against Pittsburgh they must regain their scoring touch, and depend on goaltender Braden Holtby to come up big. The Penguins just have to keep the scoring train moving full steam. The Penguins scored 4+ goals in three of the five games in the first round. This was a killer for the Rangers, and help inexperienced Penguins goaltending survive the first round. Pittsburgh must continue this scoring in round 2, and the goaltending of Matt Murray must be strong. No sign of injured goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury returning in the near future. My Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins in 6.
Dallas Stars (1) verses St. Louis Blues (2)
The St. Louis Blues have climbed the mountain. They knocked off the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in a hard fought seven game series. Emotions and confidence is high in St. Louis. The Blues must maintain their balanced scoring, and steady goaltending to advance to the Conference Finals. The Dallas Stars rolled over the Minnesota Wild (minus the late surge by the Wild in Game 6). There are two major hurdles that the Stars must overcome. Goaltending has not been excellent, and it will have to be to get past the high-powered Blues. The second question mark is the health of forward Tyler Seguin. It is undetermined how long he will be out with a lower body injury, but without his help the mountain to climb will be very difficult. My Pick: St. Louis Blues in 5.
San Jose Sharks (3) verses Nashville Predators (WC1)
The San Jose Sharks had a very solid first round victory over the Los Angeles Kings in five games. Goal scoring was up for the Sharks, and goaltending by Martin Jones was good. Jones must continue his solid play, and the Sharks must pressure the defensive minded Predators. Net front traffic is critical to the second round success of the Sharks. The Nashville Predators knocked off the favorite Anaheim Ducks in seven games. The Predators do not score a lot of goals, but they find a way to grind out the one-goal victories. They play a very work-man like style. They don’t come at your with a lot of superstars, but they work their way to success. Goaltender Pekka Rinne must be on top of his game against the Sharks. My Pick: Nashville Predators in 7.
* Photo Credit : USAToday Sports Images