Well now, that was an interesting first round of the NHL playoffs. It pretty much went chalk, with all of the favorites except Anaheim (they were only a point better than the Sharks in the regular season) winning. It’s time to dive in to the second round’s slate of games.
2018 Stanley Cup second round predictions
Boston Bruins versus Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bruins were a trendy favorite prior to the postseason, but had all that they could handle from the Maple Leafs. Still, at least they were battled tested. The Devils were not much of a match for Tampa, who dispatched them without much effort. The Lightning got the better of the Bruins down the stretch of the regular season, but this is a whole new ball game. I still like Tampa’s high end scoring and slightly better defense in this one. But it’ll be tough. Give me the Lightning in seven games.
Pittsburgh Penguins versus Washington Capitals
The Caps finally displayed some playoff grit and won four games in a row after dropping two games at home to start the playoffs. It has them thinking that this could be a different year. Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin begin the postseason on the sidelines with injuries so the time is now for D.C. to pounce. I haven’t liked the inconsistent play of Matt Murray and the Pittsburgh defense thus far. But they do have the Caps’ number annually. Give me the Pens in seven games, another hard fought series. Braden Holtby HAS to stand on his head in goal for Washington.
Winnipeg Jets versus Nashville Predators
In what could be easily the most entertaining and fast-paced series, most experts believe that it could be a long one. The Preds still have the edge on defense, though, as their blue line is the most stout in the league. Meanwhile, the Jets have battled some injuries recently. So I like the Nashville to keep going. They were sloppy in the first round and will eventually turn it up a notch. The Jets need a little more seasoning before being an NHL betting darling. At the moment, Nashville is a 7 to 4 Stanley Cup odds to win the Western Conference.
San Jose Sharks versus the Vegas Golden Knights
I will never bet against the Knights again. They’ve absolutely defied expectations and killed me this season in my predictions. That said, the Sharks are looking just as good as they did a couple of seasons ago en route to the Stanley Cup final. Still, Vegas seems to be built for the playoffs, winners of four straight one-goal games in the opening round. San Jose will be feisty and competitive, especially if Joe Thornton comes back in this series. But give me the Knights to prevail in six games.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He’s also a contributor to ESPN 101.3 Plattsburgh/Burlington. Follow him @MatthewWords.