2018 NHL Playoffs: 2ND Round Preview And Predictions
CENTRAL DIVISION FINAL
1. Nashville Predators vs 2. Winnipeg Jets
This could be the Stanley Cup Finals right here. The winner of this series will most likely go to the Cup Finals and a pretty good chance they win the whole thing, and let's be honest - we were already talking about this "Battle of the Titans" match-up before the playoffs even started. Well we're here - and when you talk about divisional formats, a series like this so early is not uncommon when you go back in history. The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames were probably the best 2 teams in the league for several years back in the 1980's and always had to play each other in the 2nd Round, as they would finish 1-2 in the old Smythe Division hence the whole "if this team can get out their division, they have a good chance to win it all" theory. The Predators are the defending Western Conference champions and will have home ice advantage in this series, and are probably deeper then they were last year particularly down the middle. The Jets also have great depth at centre, but let's not forget that they just got back into the postseason this year and have much less playoff experience than Nashville, including in net. This one goes the distance and give the final game to the home team.
Prediction: PREDATORS IN 7
PACIFIC DIVISION FINAL
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs 3. San Jose Sharks
Let's be honest, we didn't think both of these teams would win and sweep their opponents in the 1st Round, did we? A lot of fans are getting on this Vegas bandwagon, but not the Sharks! They are a lot like the Washington Capitals, getting knocked out by various teams in different rounds year after year after year. Without Joe Thornton (who has been out since mid-January due to injury) and no more Patrick Marleau (due to his free agent defection to Toronto) maybe this is what this Sharks team needed: to not rely so much on those 2 guys all the time and turn the page to a more of what is somewhat of a younger group of Sharks. One thing is for sure: they still have a lot of players at all positions that went to the Cup Finals just 2 years ago. As for those Golden Knights, once again every time we write them off and just when you think this is where this Cinderella story ends, they keep proving us wrong. I know it sounds crazy, but a battle-tested team in the postseason like the Sharks might be what it takes to knock these guys out once and for all. It says here that in this series, this Cinderella story finally strikes twelve.
Prediction: SHARKS IN 6
ATLANTIC DIVISION FINAL
1. Tampa Bay Lightning vs 2. Boston Bruins
The Lightning took care of their own business by finishing in 1st place and took out the weaker New Jersey Devils in 5 games while the Bruins and Leafs duked it out for a full 7 in what has to be the best 1-2-3 punch in any of the 4 divisions in the league. Now the chips have fallen and it turns out the Bolts opponent in Round 2 will be Boston, who while Tampa could be the best team top to bottom in the East so could they. The Bolts will be a lot more rested, but the Bruins will be carrying a lot more momentum coming off an emotional win over a division rival in a seventh game, so the scores should be close, and the series should go long. This one has the making of a lot of high-scoring games, which would make it very entertaining. When that type of hockey is played, there is none better than the highest scoring team in the league.
Prediction: LIGHTNING IN 7
METROPOLITAN DIVISION FINAL
1. Washington Capitals vs 2. Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby vs Ovechkin. Round 4. Ring the Bell - Ding-Ding. The 2-time defending champion Penguins mean business and looked in fine form in Round 1 against Philadelphia. The Capitals meanwhile, after a gutsy performance over Columbus, are in the same spot for the 3rd year in a row needing to get by the champs in order to reach the Conference Finals. Clearly Ovi will never get the respect of being a playoff player or a winner unless he ever gets past at least this point, even though his career postseason numbers add up to almost a point a game in just over 100 career playoff games. His nemesis Sid The Kid has well over a point a game in playoff action to go with 3 Stanley Cup rings and 2 Conn Smythes, and is looking for more. Getting by Ovechkin and the Caps all 3 times the Pens hoisted the big trophy and all 3 of those times in the 2nd Round. So will this time be any different? Or will it be the same old story? There seems to be no reason to believe otherwise.
Prediction: PENGUINS IN 6
2018 1ST ROUND PREDICTION RECORD: 4-4 (1/4 WINS IN EXACT GAMES)