Last night might have been one of the most depressing nights I had in awhile. No hockey was being played. It was honestly confusing. I doubled checked the NHL app several times to make sure I was seeing things correctly. Although I love the NHL playoffs, my heart does break a little the later they go as less and less hockey gets played. Nothing tops the first round and having basically 3 games a night for a week straight. But it’s time for round 2 already as 3 of the 4 series are set to go. Here is Papa’s breakdown of round 2.
Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks
Last round I predicted the Golden Knights to be swept and the Sharks to win in 7. Boy oh boy was I wrong about the Kings and Ducks. LA and Anaheim looked dreadful. They looked slow, lethargic, and out of place. Neither team made any moves that made them younger or more offensive. Sorry for all you Henrique fans out there, but the guy isn’t anything special. Both of these teams remind me of what Chicago looked like last year when they got swept by the Preds. Out of place with minimal glimpses of offense. So here we are. Two teams that did the sweeping are meeting up second round for what should be exciting hockey. Here is my breakdown.
I think we all know what we are going to get out of the Knights. They are speedy and like to create offense off the rush. Their fast forwards can win loose pucks down low and make something out of nothing. But here is the thing. They aren’t playing LA anymore. They are playing the Sharks. A team that looks rejuvenated through addition of Evander Kane. A team that has experience in the playoffs. The Sharks scored 16 goals in 4 games. They had 9 different goal scorers in the first round. This tells me that they are balanced and ready for the task to take the almighty Knights. This matters because I truly believe the playoffs are a race to 3 goals. You get to 3 first, you will most likely win the game. I think the forwards on the Sharks are more elite, balanced, and fast enough to negate anything Vegas throws at them.
Last series against the Kings, Vegas scored 7 goals in 4 games with 7 different scorers. Meh. Balanced yes, but who is their knockout punch? For as many shots on goal they had, they should have had a lot more tallies. This will be a real test for the Golden Knights. If they end up beating the Sharks, I will buy into them as a legit contender. Unfortunately for all you Vegas lovers, I don’t think they will beat the Sharks.
San Jose Sharks in 5 games.
Nashville Predators vs the Winnipeg Jets
Last series I said the Preds in 5 and the Jets in 6. Not too shabby. I think this is the matchup we are all waiting for as hockey fans. The two best teams in the West. I don’t have much to say here because it’s one of those series that needs to be played out. Here is my brief breakdown.
The Predators are fierce. They have some explosive players up front and have a d-core that can move the puck up and join the rush. They can beat you with speed and skill. They have 4 lines that can play. Forsberg has been out of control with maybe the best goal in the last 20 years. They do have lapses at times where they seem to lose touch with their identity. The Avalanche seemed to out muscle them to some pucks and prevented them from sustaining consistent pressure. That’s how you beat the Predators. The Penguins did it last year by having an offense that can turn and go and not allow those second or third chances where goals tend to happen. God this is going to be fun hockey. Now for the Jets.
Winnipeg is scary to play against. They have size, strength, and will out muscle you. They have one of the most gifted shooters in the game with Patrik Laine. They also have 4 lines that can play and can score in bunches if you stray away from your game plan. My only concern is that they might not have the speed upfront to beat the Nashville defense down low. On the contrary, the Winnipeg defense is also talented and tough. They can join the rush and be a threat in the offensive zone. If they can steal a game in Nashville, I think they will win the series.
Winnipeg Jets in 7.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals
Before the first round I predicted the Penguins to face wash the Flyers. I was right. Proven by the fact that the Philly fans littered the ice with trash. That series wasn’t a huge surprise. The Flyers couldn’t grit their way out of that series. The Pens were a better team. I had the Caps losing last round just because I don’t trust them in the playoffs. They have a great team but they never seem to get the job done. The Blue Jackets were playing some strong hockey down the stretch and I thought they would catch the Caps by surprise. A few OT and toss up games going the wrong way for Columbus is all it took to for the Caps to gain some steam. In defense of my wrong prediction, I did say that if the Caps found their game, that they would win in 6. But anyways, here is my take for the second round match up.
Both of these teams obviously live off of their elite offense and we all know the numbers behind Sid and Ovi. But when it comes down to it I think Pittsburgh will win this series in 6 or 7. I think Philly brought an aspect to the game that the Penguins hated and that was grit. If Washington can bring a physical presence to their game and beat the Penguins up a bit I think they could take it. But this is highly unlikely. The Penguins have so many different threats and different goal scorers that it makes them difficult to defend. Also having two of the best forwards (Crosby and Malkin) in the game doesn’t hurt neither. The Pens are a better team and if they can stick to their game I think will have no problem winning this series.
Washington on the other hand needs to play a full 60 minute game. They had too many lapses against CLB and allowed them to crawl back too many times. The Caps will get blown away if they don’t play a smart, full game against the Penguins. They need to roll 4 lines and need to make the Penguins defense handle the puck. Beat the Penguins up. Don’t let up and win every loose puck battle in the offensive zone. Pittsburgh is beatable but you’ll have to play a perfect series to move on.
Pittsburgh Penguins in 6.
Looking at these matchups for round 2, I have to note that these could be some of the most exciting series we have had in awhile. Every series has a great story. Take this in because it will be over before you know it….My breakdown of the Bruins/Leafs vs Lightning will come tomorrow. Enjoy round 2 everyone.