Vegas vs Edmonton
Vegas is a team that was cash strapped and didn’t even make the playoffs last year. They had a big turnaround this year but they play in a weak division. They played against Edmonton 4 times this season and lost 3 of those matchups.
Mark Stone was hurt for a lot of those matchups but he is back for the playoffs and had a big series against Winnipeg. That doesn’t really say much because I didn’t think Winnipeg would fair well against Vegas and they didn’t, getting bounced in 5 games.
Vegas is a good team, but I think Edmonton might be too much. Especially with Draisaitl playing the way he is right now. Vegas may be up 1-0, however there is a lot of hockey left to play.
Edmonton is an offensive Juggernaut. even though it went 6 games they played a tough series vs The Kings and are warmed up and ready to go against The Golden Knights.
Leon Draisaitl was a man on a mission in the first round and I expect to see the same out of him in this round. Conor McDavid has the potential to take over this series single-handedly. He had 10 points in the first round, but was a -1 which isn’t desirable. I think he breaks out for a goal a game in this series.
With Edmonton getting secondary scoring from Evander Kane or Ryan Nugent Hopkins this could be over in 6 games.
That being said 2 guys can't do it alone. they've been trying to do it that way for a few years and it doesn't seem to work. Edmonton needs to figure out a way to make this more of a complete team up and down and not just upfront.
Edmonton Wins this matchup.
Kraken vs Stars
I think it's safe to say the Kraken surprised everyone by kicking the Avs out of the playoffs in 6 games. It started in the first game when they were throwing the body around as if hits counted for points. They slowly wore that Avs team down and pulled out an upset.
I think they could do the same thing here. This Dallas team is an aging team. Throwing the body around might slow the Stars down a bit and give the Kraken a good chance.
They got goals from 14 different players in the first round which shows they have guys up and down the lineup that are willing to put the puck in the net and that depth could be dangerous. There isn’t 1 guy that sticks out here but the team playing as a unit could cause problems.
Dallas is a good team that was able to have a solid season and get into the playoffs. With Joe Pavelski back, he could prove to be a big performer if healthy enough. Jason Robertson had an excellent regular season and they need him to put up some points to beat this Kraken team.
You could also get some secondary scoring from the likes of Jamie Benn and possibly Max Domi. Domi is the type of guy that’s made for the playoffs so look for him to bring an edge but Benn had 14 PIM in the first round. He needs to stay out of the box if the Stars look to win.
That being said I think the Kraken are a better team in totality and Grubauer could steal a couple wins.
Tyler Seguin had 4 goals and 2 assists in the first round and I think he could put up similar numbers in this round.
After splitting the first two in Dallas,I think the Kraken win this Matchup.
Florida Vs Toronto
Florida took a little bit to get going. They went up against the best team in the regular season by a mile. Having tough playoff rounds in the past against Tampa, they were bound to break through at some point.
They made a what I thought was a risky decision in trading Huberdeau for Tkachuk last summer. Huberdeau had chemistry with Barkov and I wouldn’t think that is something you’d want to mess with.
Well they did and Tkachuk had an even better year in Florida than he did in Calgary. Most important he’s continuing that production into the playoffs with 10 points in 7 games. Tkachuk could be a game breaker for Florida in this series.
Another player to look out for is Carter Verhaeghe. He had 42 goals in the regular season and 2 goals and 6 assists in the first round. If can continue to produce like that, it could make this a tough round.
I think Bobrovsky might be the key for this team though. If he can play well he gives this Florida team a chance to win.
Toronto took a big step and beat Tampa in 6 games in the first round. They have been knocked out of the first round for the last 6 years. They have either missed the playoffs or been knocked out of the first round in the past 17 years.
This team is hungry and they have the roster to go all the way. Austin Matthews had a down season by his standards but he still put up 42 goals. Halfway through the first round he started to get it going. If he starts scoring at his normal rate this series could be over quickly.
Mitch Marner I believe is the heart of the offense. Often overlooked because Austin scores so much. Kind of like Leon in Edmonton in the shadow of Conor Mcdavid. Although through the 2023 playoffs Leon is scoring all the goals.
Marner could have a big series. This guy has been consistent and constantly creating offense. Recently nominated for the Selke trophy he looks to be developing into a 2 way player
John Tavares is a hometown Toronto kid. Captain of the team, and he’s hungry to bring a Championship to his hometown team that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967. With a big game winner against Tampa he’s looking to continue that against Florida.
Ryan O’Reilly With 2 Goals, 5 assists, and a surprising -1 in the first round I’m thinking he’s going to lock it up in this round. An elite 2-way center and a perfect pickup at the deadline. Ryan O’Reilly is the type of player this team has needed for years. Could be a big difference maker.
I think Toronto top down is the Team to beat this year. As the playoffs progress that could change!
Despite being down 0-2 to the former President Trophy winners....
Toronto wins this Series.
Hurricanes vs Devils
The Canes have been a team, like Florida, has been in the unfortunate position of having to play against Tampa the last few seasons.
Now that Tampa is out, the door is open to see what this team can do. They beat an Islanders team in the first round that wasn’t quite ready for the playoffs. They face a young team with a hot goalie in the second round.
Sebastian Aho is the player that leads this team from the front. He goes all out every shift and his production will determine if this team can move on past The Devils. He had 4 goals and 3 assists in the first round. With Akira Schmid playing the way he is, Aho will have to get creative in scoring.
Jordan Staal has been a leader and a warrior for the Canes for a long time. A great 2 way forward that is coming to the twilight of his career. Never a huge goal scorer but a gamer that could turn the tide with a goal if needed.
Weakness could be their goaltending.
The Devils are kind of like the Blackhawks in 09. A young team that didn’t have an expectations in the playoffs and are just going out there and playing. It’s working. They put The Rangers out of their Misery in a game 7 they completely dominated. If they can perform like that in the second round they could beat this Carolina team. 1 player that stands out is Akira Schmid. He has taken over the net in New Jersey and is playing great. With that kind of play it gives the team opportunity to get their legs under them and start pressuring. Which is what happened in game 7 vs NYR.
Jack Hughes had 3 goals and 2 assists in the first round and I don’t think thats enough when your supposed to be the guy. If he starts producing like he did in the regular season he gives his team a huge chance. Keeping the puck on his stick and moving the puck around should be his priority. He needs to stay out of the corners because he gets man handled in there.
Dougie Hamilton has been playing very well and reliable. He is also someone who can break the game wide open and elevate his team offensively. With only 3 points in the first round they’ll need him to get past the Canes.
Probably no one more important right now than Akira Schmid. He had 2 shutouts in the first round. He’s tracking the puck well and is very athletic. I think he’s the difference maker for this Devils team right now and give them an excellent chance to move on.
Even down 2 games, I’ve got the Devils winning this round.
In my latest podcast my partner and I go over the end of the exiting first roundof the playoffs and how great it was for hockey. Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think of the playoffs so far.