Welcome to the second round of the NHL Playoffs. To give you a recap I went three out of four in the East picking the Islander, Bruins, and Canes. I went one for four in the West with the Blues as the only team to advance. So all and all not bad.

So let’s break down these matchups!

Jackets_vs_Bruins

Let’s be honest if you are not cheering for the Jackets you just don’t like fun. Or you live in Boston in which case you still don’t like fun. The jackets vanquished the big bad Tampa Bay Lightning’s is a clean sweep. This dismantling was epic and cannot be understated. The B’s had a much tougher test almost losing the series to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs were good but Botson was better. There game is gritty and playoff tested. Their stars chipped in when needed and they had depth scoring all series long from guys like Charlie Coyle. Tukka put on a masterpiece in game seven against the Leafs, but was shakey all series.

 

The Blue Jackets should be able to handle the rough and tumble Bruins physically. We know the Jackets can score. Both teams have deep talented rosters with very little weaknesses. My sticking point of this series is in net. If Rask falters he has playoff superstar Jaroslav Halak backing him up. So Sergei Bobrovsky will have to be locked in for the Jackets.

The other interesting matchup is behind the bench. John Tortorella out coached the smartest man in the league Jon Cooper. By the same token Bruce Cassidy has now defeated the legendary Mike Babcock in back to back years. Both coaches require a lot of discipline from their teams. It could be the coach who turns their stars free that wins this series.

My gut says Boston in 6 but I like fun so Jacket in 7.

 

Canes_vs_Islanders

Look can the Canes win this series? Probably not, but the probably weren’t going to beat the Capitals either. But this team just has that fairy dust on them right now. They are truly a team. They play for each other. They love their coach, and follow their captains lead. The way they battled back against the Capitals in the series and game seven should leave no doubt they are legit.

With that being said they are running into a mirror. The Islanders are maybe the most dedicated team left in the postseason. They play the same way every shift. They get pucks deep, bang bodies, and capitalize on every chance they get. Robin Lehner has shown he can perform in the postseason.

This matchup comes down to will. Neither team is flashy on paper and in style so who ever can stick together and play team hockey will win the series. I know that’s not much of an analysts but this one will really come down to the intangibles. This one is easily going seven and right now I’m sticking with my Bunch of Jerks Canes in 7.

 

Sharks_vs_Avs

The Sharks are covered in game seven glory. After coming back in the series against Vegas they are on top of the world. Which is exactly how Nathan MacKinnon wants them to be. Over confident, cocky, entitled. Ask Mark Giordano about Mac’s ability to exploit teams. The Avs dismembered the Flames in four straight games to win their series. With the prime example in game five on the road down by two, the Avs charged back to win the game in OT. They did so off the back of the best line in hockey. The Avs are well rested and battle tested.

For the Sharks you have to say The Hockey Gods are smiling down on them. Maybe it’s finally Joe Thortons time. Maybe they love this all star roster and they will influence this series in ways that only The Hockey Gods can. Like propping up their below average goalie to make him look like a mega star.

This entire series circles around one critical matchup. The Avs top line vs Martin Jones. Can Jones keep the Sharks within striking distance? Or will the Avs young stars tear him limb from limb?

I put money on the best player left in the playoffs Avs in 7.

 

Blues_vs_Stars

Did someone put me in a time machine? It feels like the early 2000’s all over again. I wish the Dallas Stars has Sergei Zubov tho, cause then I could easily pick them to advance. They did a nice job of masking their lack of depth in the Nashville series. They played their guns as much as humanly possible and managed to win one more game than the Preds. Also Ben Bishop was playing out of his mind which we know he is capable of. The key for Dallas in this series will be the health and longevity of their big horses. As long as their studs don’t tire they stand a shot to win this series.

The Blues bested the Winnipeg Jets in six games. They just out played them at every turn. The Blues are a team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Well almost every part but Ryan O’Reilly. That man is going off this season. Jordan Bennington proved he is no flash in the pan and is able to bounce back after a bad game. That should give the Blues some confidence against the Stars. This series may not be the sexiest on paper, but for nostalgia reasons I am overly invested.

I think the Blue’s depth helps them get over the hump here, Blues in 6.

 

 

I think the first round proved that no one is safe. Some of the old hands got through but it wouldn’t shock me to see another round of the young upstarts beating their better established counterparts. If we have the Avs and Stars and the Jackets and Hurricanes are the conference finals I am not going to complain. This year’s postseason has been great so far, and I imagine were about to get more of the same.

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Written by Johnny Violence

The lead NHL/Hockey writer for Thoughts From The Bench.

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