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NHL playoffs evaluation through first two games.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets: Series Tied 1-1

It’s been a tale of two different games in this series as Winnipeg won Game one 5-1 while Vegas rebounded with a 5-2 victory in game two. The series is tied 1-1 heading back to Canada for two games in Winnipeg. Adam Lowry has been solid so far with three goals and nine hits for the Jets in two games. Connor Hellebuyck has been okay in net for the Jets with a 3.00 GAA and a .893 SV%. Vegas had a very poor game one, but they responded strong in game two and leading the way with two goals and 1 assist is Mark Stone. Goaltender Laurent Brossoit has a 3.04 GAA with a .905 SV% through two games. The Winnipeg Jets powerplay has been good going 2-6 (33.3%) and scoring in each of the two games while the Golden Knights are 0-7 on the power play. This has been a very physical series with the Golden Knights leading the way in hits 126-124. As the series goes back to Winnipeg it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out with Vegas coming off a strong game two and the crowd in Winnipeg will be jumping. My initial prediction was Vegas in six games and that outcome might very well still happen. Also it's important to note that the Golden Knights have been terrific on the road this season.


Seattle Kraken vs. Colorado Avalanche: Series tied 1-1

The Kraken have played very well in the two games against Colorado with a 3-1 victory in game one and a 3-2 loss in game two as the series now heads to Seattle for games three and four. Adam Larsson has been great on the blueline for the Kraken and Philipp Grubauer has been a star in net through two games with a 2.03 GAA and a .947 SV%. The Avalanche would like to see more production from Nathan MacKinnon who has 15 shots so far in this series but has yet to score while Alexander Georgiev has been outperformed by his Seattle opponent as Georgiev has a 2.54 GAA and a .915 SV%. Both teams have yet to score a powerplay goal with Colorado going 0-4 while Seattle is 0-5 on the powerplay. After getting outworked in the physical aspect of game one, Colorado responded by leading in hits in game two 50-40. My initial prediction for this series was Colorado in 5 games and I was concerned about goaltending for the Kraken but so far they have played very well. This series may actually go to six or seven games.

New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils: Rangers lead 2-0

The New York Rangers couldn’t have asked for a better start to the playoffs as the won their opening road games by a combined score of 10-2 and they head back home with a commanding lead in this series. Adam Fox has been the best defenseman on the ice and he has six assists already in this series. Offensively Patrick Kane and Chris Kreider have been ridiculous with additional offensive support from Vladimir Tarasenko, Artemi Panarin and Filip Chytil. Igor Shesterkin has been rock solid in net as expected with a 1.00 GAA and a .961 SV% through the first two games. It has been a disaster for New Jersey as their big guns haven’t shown up offensively and Vitek Vanecek has struggled in net with a 4.52 GAA and a .827 SV% to open the series. The Rangers have done a terrific job of blocking shots in this series as well. The Rangers are 4-10 (40%) on the powerplay during this series while the Devils are 1-8 (12.5%). My prediction for this series was Rangers in 7 games and I thought this would be the best series of the first round but so far it’s been the most one-sided and I’m not convinced that the Devils can push this too seven games.


Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Series tied 1-1

The first game was an embarrassment for the Maple Leafs losing 7-3 on home ice but they responded with a dominant 7-2 victory in game two. So who has the upper hand in this series heading back to Tampa Bay? A key point has been the injuries for Tampa Bay as they lost two of their best defenseman in Erik Cernak and Victor Hedman in game one of this series. Corey Perry has been a thorn in the side of Maple Leafs players and fans through two games as he already has two goals, two assists, 1 fight and plenty of trash talking along the way. Andrei Vasilevskiy has struggled in this series with a 5.00 GAA and a .853 SV%. Mitch Marner has been the best Maple Leaf forward through two games because of his work at both ends of the ice and on both special teams. He has 2 goals and 4 assists through the opening two games. John Tavares responded in game two with a hat trick and Morgan Rielly had 4 assists in game two. Ilya Samsonov has struggled in net through the opening two games with a 4.82 GAA and a .843 SV%. The power plays have been strong for both teams with Tampa Bay going 4-11 (36%) through two games while Toronto has gone 4-10 (40%). The physicality of the Lightning should be noted and maybe game three will be a bit more competitive than the opening two games. I predicted Toronto in six games and I believe that is still attainable but I still have concerns with the play of Ilya Samsonov and defensive mistakes that have been made in the opening two games.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings: Series tied 1-1

The Kings had a tremendous comeback in game one on the way to an overtime victory while game two was a solid 4-2 Edmonton victory. Leon Draisaitl has been the star for the Oilers in the opening two games with 3 goals and 2 assists while the other two 100-point scorers Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have struggled with a combined two assists in the opening two games. Stuart Skinner has been okay with a 2.78 GAA and a .898 SV% in the opening games of the playoffs. Anze Kopitar had a terrific game one for the Kings and he leads the way with 4 points while Joonas Korpisalo has done a good job with a 2.83 GAA and a .921 SV% in the two road games. The Kings have gone 2-10 (20%) on the power-play while the Oilers have gone 2-4 (50%) on the power-play to start this series but the Oilers need to be more disciplined and stay out of the penalty box moving forward. This series went seven games last season, but I predicted the Oilers to win in six and that may very well still happen. Los Angeles has done a good job through two games but I expect McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins to join Draisaitl offensively at some point during this opening round on the score sheet.

Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild: Series tied 1-1

Let me start by saying that Marc-Andre Fleury is a Hall of Famer goaltender and an absolute legend of the sport but there was no reason to start him in game two of this series after a 51 save victory by Filip Gustavsson. Fleury allowed seven goals in game two and made 24 saves for a .774 SV% in what was a one-sided 7-3 victory for Dallas. The Wild head to Minnesota going 1-1 in Dallas but they need a big response from a game two beatdown. Miro Heiskanen has been a beast for the Stars as the defensemen is averaging 32 minutes of ice time and has 5 assists through two games. Roope Hintz has 4 goals and veteran Jamie Benn has 3 points to start the playoffs. Goaltender Jake Oettinger has been great for Dallas as expected with a 2.37 GAA and a .919 SV% to open this series. Minnesota has gone 2-9 (22%) on the powerplay while Dallas has gone an impressive 5-11 (45%) in this series. Minnesota needs to stay disciplined and play the more physical game to beat this talented Dallas team. I predicted the Wild to win in seven games and I believe this series will remain a battle until the end for both teams.

Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers: Series tied 1-1

The Bruins have looked beatable through the opening two games of their series against Florida with a close 3-1 victory in game one and a 6-3 loss in game two. The Bruins are in desperate need for Patrice Bergeron to return to the line-up as the top lines for Boston have struggled five-on-five at times. Goaltender Linus Ullmark has not looked like a Vezina caliber player as he has a 3.04 GAA and a .902 SV% in the opening two games. Florida have battled and received some depth scoring from Eric Staal, Eetu Luostarinen and Sam Bennett in the early part of this series. Alex Lyon has battled in net with a 3.07 GAA and a .909 SV% through the opening two games. The Panthers are 0-5 on the power play while Boston has gone 2-6 (33.33%) to start this series. I predicted the Bruins in four games but I have not been impressed by the Bruins so far as they haven’t generated enough offensive chances and have struggled against the Panthers. This series is far from over.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders: Carolina lead 2-0

Both games have been decided by one goal but the Hurricanes came away with the victories and they now lead the series 2-0. Brent Burns has been fantastic for the Hurricanes defensively and he has contributed 4 assists already. Antti Raanta has been one of the best goaltenders of the playoffs with a 1.92 GAA and a .923 SV% through the opening two games. The Islanders have goaltender Ilya Sorokin playing great with a 2.92 GAA and a .932 SV% while Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri have done a good job offensively. The Islanders didn’t get a single powerplay opportunity in game two and overall they are 0-4 on the powerplay while Carolina is 3-10 (30%) to start this series. The Islanders are dominating the physical game leading in hits 98-64 with the hope to beat down the Hurricanes. I predicted the Hurricanes to win in five games and I believe my prediction may very well happen with the Islanders lacking the scoring power and defensive depth to compete with the Hurricanes. 

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