By Justin Maskulinski, For The Miami Student
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are moving on to the second round, and both of my Stanley Cup Final picks (New York Rangers and Chicago) are still alive. My credibility is still at risk, but it’s slowly growing.
My Round 2 predictions:
Chicago over Minnesota, 4-3
This is a battle of a team with a hot goaltender and a team that has had to rely on offensive firepower to make up for its sporadic goaltending.
Chicago has the experience edge, and Patrick Kane is showing everyone that his injury is a nonfactor. Kane (7 points), Jonathan Toews (8) and Duncan Keith (8) are among the top of the league in playoff points.
Devan Dubnyk has been effective between the pipes for the Wild (minus one game) and is one of the finalists for the Vezina Trophy. The offense isn’t too shabby either, averaging three goals a game. Zach Parise leads the way with seven points.
This series will go the distance, and the Blackhawks will get to play a game seven in the Madhouse in Madison. Chicago’s widespread offensive skill and experience will be the difference.
Anaheim over Calgary, 4-2
The Flames are a hot team, but the Ducks are firing on all cylinders.
Corey Perry had seven points in the four-game sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, and the Ducks showed they can play well when it matters, outscoring the Jets 10-1 in the final frame. Frederik Andersen was also a key to the sweep, with a 2.20 goals against average and a .924
The Flames averaged three goals per game after the series-clinching seven-goal explosion. Both Jiri Hudler and Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau had six points in the series. Jonas Hiller will be up against his former team in the second round matchup.
Winnipeg, like Calgary, had a crazy crowd, but that did not faze the Ducks. The Flames will have to win in the Honda Center, where they are 0-15-5 in their last 20 regular season tries. If the Flames want to advance, they will have to steal a few wins at the Ducks’ home pond. Not going to happen.
New York Rangers over Washington, 4-2
A New York vs New York series would have been a sweet matchup, but the Capitals had other ideas.
The Rangers will be well-rested heading into round two after a short five-game series with Pittsburgh, a team that limped into the playoffs. Lundqvist and company held the Penguins to eight goals in five games, an impressive feat, given Pittsburgh’s star power. Lundqvist’s GAA is 1.53 – a number that low tends to get the job done.
The Capitals won in seven against a tough Islanders team that fought to keep playing in their home barn. Alex Ovechkin ranks in the top 10 in three statistics after the first round of action: games played (tied for first with seven), short-handed goals (tied for seventh with zero), and shots (second with 28). The Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy winner has five points through one round of hockey and will need to contribute much more if his team wants to pass King Henrik and the Rangers.
The Rangers have had time to rest, have a solid goaltender and were not fazed by Pittsburgh’s star power. The Capitals scored 2.29 goals per game against Jaroslav Halak, and their reward is a matchup against Lundqvist. The Rangers will capitalize on their strong first round and advance.
Montreal over Tampa Bay, 4-2
After posting a shutout in game seven against Detroit, the Lightning get to make the long trip up to Montreal for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop Friday.
If the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup, it will be because of Carey Price. The Montreal goaltender is up for the Vezina and Hart trophies and posted a 1.94 GAA and .939 save percentage against a hot Ottawa team in the first round. While Price has led the way in net for Montreal, the offense is very spread out. Seventeen different players registered a point in the first round.
Carey Price may be up for all the awards, but the playoff GAA of Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop is better after one round. After holding the Red Wings to 15 goals in round one, the Lightning goaltender boasts a 1.87 GAA. Tyler Johnson has been managing the goals department for the Bolts and is tied with Vladimir Tarasenko for the league-lead six goals.
The offense-by-committee strategy will allow the Canadiens to take this series. Steven Stamkos will have to step up for the Lightning after Montreal’s blue-liners zero in on Tyler Johnson. Carey Price will continue his dominant play as the Habs advance.