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The NBC Sports EDGE staff have gathered to give their second-round picks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There are four series to get to, but with the Toronto-Montreal series still undecided and headed for Game 7 Monday, we will give our predictions on the other three series.
BOSTON-NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Ryan: Boston over NY Islanders in 6 – Taylor Hall seems to have been the missing ingredient that turned the Bruins from being a good team to a great one. It’s not that Hall is single-handedly winning Boston games or has even been the best player on the team since he’s been acquired, it’s that with Hall in the line, the Bruins can now reliably ice two excellent scoring lines and a solid third line. That extra depth should be enough to even get Boston to move past the defensively strong Islanders.
Corey: Boston Bruins in six games – Boston has heated up at exactly the right time. The late-season additions of Taylor Hall and Mike Reilly have made a big impact, while the top trio of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron is a handful for any team to stop. The Islanders played well in Round 1, but Boston’s goaltending and team defense are much better than Pittsburgh’s.
Anna: Boston Bruins defeat the New York Islanders in 5 – The Boston Bruins showcased how effective of a team they are against the Washington Capitals in the first round, dominating towards the end of that series. The Bruins won their last three appearances against the Islanders in the regular season and after the trade deadline the team has seen a spark that will be tough to beat. A big factor in the Islanders beating the Penguins was the netminding of Tristan Jarry. Tuukka Rask on the other hand will be a far bigger challenge. Barry Trotz and his team will be sure to put in some solid effort in this series and I predict some close matchups, maybe even a couple overtimes, but the way the Bruins have been playing so far this postseason will be tough to beat.
Jeff: Bruins over Islanders in 5 Games – If the Islanders can’t find an answer for David Pastrnak, this series will be short and sweet. The Islanders continue to punch above their weight class but that might be coming to an end. Boston has arguably the league’s best top-six after the addition of Taylor Hall and I believe it’ll prove to be too much to handle.
Joey: Bruins in 6 – I believe the Bruins are the more talented team, but the Islanders can seem to find a way to hang with almost anyone in a playoff series. New York was able to overcome the loss of Anders Lee in the Penguins series, but I don’t think they can get by Boston without him. The Bruins Stars will have to make a difference in this one and I think Tuukka Rask will help back-stop Boston to the final four.
Michael: Islanders in 7 – The Islanders have been playing playoff hockey all season, just like they have the past few seasons under coach Barry Trotz. The Bruins have a strong team led by their top line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand but the Islanders will shut down the rest of the lineup, allowing them to sneak past Boston. Ilya Sorokin will continue to surprise and will just outplay Tuukka Rask. It will be a close series and Game 7 could even go into overtime.
Consensus: Boston 5 Islanders 1
Editor’s Note: All the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders playoff action can be streamed here.
Ryan: Tampa Bay over Carolina in 6 – The Hurricanes are an up-and-coming team that should be a threat for years to come, but the defending champion Lightning are just as good as they were in the 2020 playoffs. Arguably they’re even better because this time around Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are both healthy and playing at an elite level. Kucherov’s injury for the 2020-21 regular season prevented the Lightning from having to make tough cap-related decisions this season and resulted in this team being what it is in this playoff run. Those cap issues are likely to catch up with them after this postseason run and consequently reduce the Lightning for the 2021-22 campaign. For now, though they are a loaded team.
Corey: Tampa Bay Lightning in six games – Tampa Bay got a big boost with the arrival of Nikita Kucherov for the postseason. He entered Round 2 as the league’s leading playoff scorer and the return of Steven Stamkos gave the team two dangerous scoring lines. They were too much for Florida to handle and Carolina will have similar issues even though they are a better defensive squad than the Panthers. The Hurricanes and Lightning have similar roster makeups and styles, but Tampa Bay has a slight edge in each area. Additionally, Carolina had a bit more trouble with Nashville than I thought they would.
Anna: Carolina Hurricanes defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in 7 – This is undoubtedly going to be one of the most interesting series in the second round. Tampa will be fighting to defend their title and have all the pieces to do that. Nikita Kucherov currently leads the NHL this postseason points with 11. Also, Victor Hedman leads all defensemen in playoff points with eight so far. However, there is just something so dynamic about the Hurricanes this season and the way the team works together as a whole is incredibly effective. Every player on the Hurricanes roster will have to show up playing their best hockey if they hope to overpower the talent that the Lightning have and so I think this series will go the distance, but eventually I have Carolina coming out on top.
Jeff: Tampa Bay over Carolina in 6 games – I’m really loving the Hurricanes and watching Sebastian Aho work his magic but this Lightning team just seems to be too stacked thanks to some creative accounting at the deadline by GM Julien BriseBois. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov don’t seem to have missed a beat after long absences and Tampa just has some incredible depth to push them further.
Joey: Carolina in 7 – This is going to be a speed/skill series and I’m here for it. The Bolts look like a different team now that they have Stanley Cup rings. This is a group that was battle-tested last year and that should serve them well here, but I feel like there’s something special about this Carolina group. They have a blend of young players and veterans and they seem to love playing for coach Rod Brind’Amour.
Michael: Carolina in 7 – There are a few signs that the Lightning aren’t as good as they were last season. They played the Panthers tough but Florida did not get any real goaltending, allowing the Bolts to get past them. That won’t be the case against the Hurricanes as they have excellent goaltending in Alex Nedeljkovic, as well as a good blueline led by Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin. Tampa Bay is hurting as Victor Hedman is dealing with an injury and I am not convinced that Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos will not hit a wall as they have returned from injury. Andrei Vasilevskiy is capable of stealing a series and could do so for Tampa Bay.
Consensus: Carolina 3 Tampa Bay 3
Editor’s Note: All the Carolina Hurricanes-Tampa Bay Lightning action can be seen here.
Ryan: Vegas over Colorado in 7 – This one could easily go either way given the level of talent on both teams. Ultimately I’m picking the Golden Knights because I think they’re best built to win a championship with their balanced attack, elite defensemen, and red hot goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury. Minnesota taking them to seven games did give me pause, but the return of Max Pacioretty should help going forward.
Corey: Colorado Avalanche in seven games – Colorado looked great against St. Louis, while Vegas allowed Minnesota to battle back from a 3-1 series lead. The Golden Knights got Max Pacioretty back for Game 7 of the first round and that changes things a bit, but Colorado’s overall depth and skill still puts them on top. It is unclear how long Nazem Kadri’s suspension will last this round, but his absence doesn’t dull the chances of the Avalanche advancing at all. This is a well-oiled machine ready for a deep playoff run.
Anna: Colorado Avalanche defeat the Vegas Golden Knights in 6 – The Avalanche looked ready to take home the Stanley Cup during the first round, as they levied a sweep against the St. Louis Blues. The Golden Knights, on the other hand, went all the way to seven games against the Minnesota Wild before finally moving on. Both of these teams are offensively talented and both have strong options in goal, but it is the depth that Colorado has that truly distinguishes them from other teams in the league. They have so many great options in a plethora of positions and that is why I have them winning this series.
Jeff: Colorado over Vegas in 7 Games – This will likely be the series I follow the closest. It’s going to be a heavyweight tilt between Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar going up against Mark Stone and co. This Avalanche squad is probably the most fun to watch around the league and I’m hoping they can push forward here.
Joey: Colorado in 6 – The Avs benefitted from sweeping the Blues in the first round, while Vegas had to fight through a Game 7 against the Minnesota Wild. How will that impact the series? Time will tell. I would have gone with Colorado either way, but the fact that they’re fresher makes a difference too. I’m not taking anything away from Vegas because they’re a great team, but I feel like Colorado is more skilled and they have more high-end skill. Spoiler alert: I think they’re winning the Stanley Cup this year.
Michael: Colorado in 5 – The Avs have the best team in hockey and although the Golden Knights could be the second-best team in the league, the Avs should win all three in Denver and split in Las Vegas. The line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog rocked against the Blues while their strong blueline led by Cale Makar and the outstanding netminding of Philipp Grubauer as well as extra time off, while Vegas played a tough seven game series against Minnesota, should be enough. Vegas has Marc-Andre Fleury who is capable of shutting down anyone, but it may not be enough for the series win.
Consensus: Colorado 5 Vegas 1
Editor’s Note: All the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas playoff action can be streamed here.