Rangers vs. Hurricanes: 5 questions about Second Round series

PHT previews each Second Round playoff series with five questions. In this post, we explore a Metropolitan Division showdown between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers.


NEW YORK RANGERS v. CAROLINA HURRICANES

Game 1 – May 18: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 20: Rangers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Hurricanes at Rangers, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 24: Hurricanes at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 26: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Hurricanes at Rangers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined


1. Will it be Raanta or Andersen in Hurricanes’ net?

During their series against the Bruins, the Hurricanes didn’t even have the option to start Frederik Andersen. While the situation is touch-and-go, it seems like Andersen could be available for the Hurricanes at some point (possibly as early as Game 1?) against the Rangers.

That brings up the inevitable question. Should the Hurricanes go with Andersen, if available, or roll with Antti Raanta?

Frankly, there are worse problems to have.

After being a strong backup for the Rangers, Raanta ended up being an underrated piece for the Coyotes. His time in Arizona was less a “failure,” and more the combined forces of bad injury luck, and the emergence of Darcy Kuemper. When called upon, Raanta was often very good, and sometimes brilliant. According to Hockey Reference, Raanta generated a Goals Saved Above Average of 35.5 in 104 games over four seasons with the Coyotes.

You could definitely argue that Raanta probably deserved a longer look as a starter, or at least a more overt platoon situation. (The Maple Leafs may regret pursuing Petr Mrazek instead of Raanta, as one example.)

[NHL Power Rankings: Top playoff storylines for the Second Round]

Despite spending parts of nine often-productive seasons in the NHL, Raanta made his playoff debut this year, which is surprising since he just turned 33. When healthy (there’s that injury luck again), Raanta played very well for Carolina.

Of course, Frederik Andersen arguably deserved a Vezina Trophy finalist nod, as he was outstanding this season. Andersen’s also suffered through some (but clearly not all) of the Maple Leafs’ playoff nightmares.

We also don’t know if Andersen’s in “healthy enough to play” mode, or if he’s fully healthy.

Overall, the Hurricanes approach a series against the Rangers with that tough Raanta vs. Andersen question. It’s better to have too many options than too few, though. (And, hey, at least Pyotr Kochetkov gained some playoff experience, if they once again run on low on options.)

2. Will Igor Shesterkin rebound to his all-world form?

In that bizarre and busy series against the Penguins, the Rangers gained an advantage in net thanks to Igor Shesterkin. It just wasn’t as much of a series-changer as expected.

(Apologies, Louis Domingue and a possibly unhealthy Tristan Jarry, but the bar was pretty low.)

Against the Hurricanes, the most reasonable path for a Rangers upset is Igor Shesterkin regaining his superhuman form, and his team scoring just enough to steal wins.

Much like the Penguins, the Hurricanes have a history of being “goalie’d” in the playoffs. Actually, goaltending used to doom Carolina enough to derail their postseason hopes altogether.

With the Hurricanes seemingly more stable in net (injuries clearly pending), the Rangers likely need Shesterkin to be outstanding. Again, it really must be repeated: Shesterkin put together a regular season for the ages. It’s certainly possible that he heats up against the high-energy Hurricanes.

3. Is special teams even an advantage for Rangers against Hurricanes?

The elevator pitch for a Rangers’ upset of the Hurricanes is simple. It also summarizes much of the Rangers’ success in 2021-22:

“Igor Shesterkin stands on his head, and the Rangers score enough thanks to a killer power play.”

When you consider New York’s power play weapons, it’s not an outrageous thing to picture. Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin are terrifying playmakers. Adam Fox can put that Harvard brain to work. The way Chris Kreider‘s been playing, he’s the net-front answer to Alex Ovechkin. You just kind of hope he only scores a couple power-play goals, instead of a bucket of them.

(via Evolving Hockey)

The Rangers face a potential problem, though: the Hurricanes may just be better than them in every area.

In the Evolving Hockey Team RAPM chart above, you can see that the power play is one area where the Rangers were unequivocally strong this season.

[2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, TV information]

While Shesterkin played a big role in boosting a fairly average defense, the Rangers were legit on the man advantage.

It remains to be seen if the Hurricanes’ “power kill” will negate much of that strength for the Rangers. Failing that, the Hurricanes could conceivably draw close-to-even at special teams, and dominate at 5-on-5 as expected.

By default, Evolving Hockey’s charts are set to three standard deviations. Carolina’s PK is so strong, you need to adjust beyond four. Translation: they’re extremely good shorthanded. (Via Evolving Hockey)

4. Did trade deadline close some of depth gap between Rangers, Hurricanes?

When Max Domi emerged as a Game 7 hero for Carolina, it was the latest reminder that the Hurricanes possess a deep rotation of skilled forwards.

Now, it’s not fair to say that the Rangers have all of the star power in this series. Sebastian Aho has been a point-per-game player for four seasons. Jaccob Slavin‘s closer to a “defensive star” than many realize.

But you can argue that New York has the bigger stars. Even if it’s the equivalent to one great actor making the matinee, while another star doesn’t get the same billing.

Could adding the likes of Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano close some of that depth gap for the Rangers? It’s at least possible.

5. Who wins the series: Hurricanes or Rangers?

Hurricanes in five

So much went the Rangers’ way in their last series, yet they needed a Game 7 overtime goal to advance and face the Hurricanes. And this wasn’t a case like Calgary’s, where an incredible goaltending performance artificially prolonged a series.

If the Hurricanes aren’t better than the Penguins (I’d lean toward Carolina), they present just as many problems for the Rangers. Maybe the hard-charging Hurricanes style will be easier for a Rangers team that struggles at even-strength, but my guess is that it will end up even uglier.

Shesterkin could swing this, but I prefer Carolina’s chances.

The Wraparound: Perfectly timed Battle of Alberta for Flames, Oilers

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• Catch up on Game 1 of Blues – Avalanche and Lightning – Panthers in the Tuesday Rink Wrap.

• The NHL announced the 2022 Selke Trophy finalists: Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, and Elias Lindholm.

• It’s not too late to read PHT’s Roundtable about the playoffs so far, with some looks at the future.

As exciting as Game 1 (9:30 p.m. ET) is, it’s almost criminal that the Flames and Oilers haven’t engaged in a “Battle of Alberta” since 1991.

For all of the shortcomings of the NHL’s playoff and divisional formats recently, the goal was to develop “Battle of Alberta”-type rivalries. Reignite old ones. Make new ones.

But, to some extent, there’s that key variable: if one or both teams aren’t good enough, they won’t get many chances to make the playoffs.

There’s a bright side to the Flames and Oilers finally meeting in this “Battle of Alberta.” You could argue that there’s never been a better time for this to happen again.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

Just look at the two biggest superstars.

Connor McDavid was superhuman through Game 7 against the Kings. Fellow Oilers star Leon Draisaitl didn’t just rave about the offense, but also that McDavid would not be “denied.”

“There’s lots of skill with him, that’s a given, but it’s the will,” Draisaitl said. “You can see it in his eyes, you can feel it every shift that he’s out there. He’s determined.

Through seven games, McDavid generated an outstanding 14 points. Beyond that, he dominated at 5-on-5, and played a 200-ft. game.

[NHL Power Rankings: Top Second Round storylines]

Johnny Gaudreau similarly dominated, breaking through when no one else could against Jake Oettinger, including on the overtime-winner in Game 7. Gaudreau’s eight points in seven games don’t match McDavid’s output, yet both stars are silencing doubters about their playoff prowess.

It’s the sort of thing that gets you a big hug.

Delightfully, both McDavid and Gaudreau enjoy better supporting casts than they’ve likely had with the Oilers and Flames respectively. (Calgary’s deeper, but Edmonton has other weapons.)

Aside from wanting more series, more often, there’s not much more you can ask for with a “Battle of Alberta.”

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Game 1: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports): In PHT’s predictions, four of five people chose the Hurricanes over the Rangers. That’s the sort of confidence you normally only get from dentists. The reasoning is simple. The Rangers faced a Penguins team ravaged by injuries, including in net, and barely won. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes’ goalies were the ones suffering injuries, yet they beat a strong Bruins opponent. Carolina also boasted a far superior team during the season from an analytics standpoint, and many would agree that “the eye test” would argue similarly for them over New York.

If narratives carry over from round to round, then Game 1 (and 2) could favor the Hurricanes over the Rangers even more. After all, the Hurricanes were perfect (and at times, scary-good) at home during their series against Boston.

Game 1: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Avalanche vs. Blues

Lightning vs. Panthers
Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
NHL Second Round predictions
Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round

PHT Morning Skate: How Battle of Alberta has changed; Zibanejad’s impact

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.

• It’s been 31 years since the last Battle of Alberta playoff series. How has the rivalry changed over the years? [Sportsnet]

• How will the Flames go about slowing down Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl? [NHL.com]

• Gerard Gallant has managed to get the very best out of Mika Zibanejad for the Rangers. [NY Post]

• How well do the Hurricanes knows the Rangers? Well, six of them used to play in the Big Apple. [News and Observer]

• What makes Andrew Brunette the “perfect guy” to coach the Panthers? [Florida Hockey Now]

• Barry Trotz reportedly interviewed for the open Jets head coaching job. Would he be a good fit back home? [Daily Faceoff]

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

Alex Killorn had quite the fan club in the AMALIE Arena crowd during Game 1. [Tampa Bay Times]

• Regarding Jason Spezza‘s future, it’s Toronto or retirement. [TSN]

• With salary cap hell coming, how should the Wild go about their future? [Zone Coverage]

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info

The Second Round of the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins on Tuesday, May 17. The final four teams in the Eastern Conference are the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Out in the Western Conference it will be the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and St. Louis Blues.

The winners of the four Second Round series will meet in the 2022 Conference Finals.

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Eastern Conference

FLORIDA PANTHERS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (TBL leads 1-0)

Game 1 – May 17: Lightning 4, Panthers 1
Game 2 – May 19: Lightning at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Panthers at Lightning, 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Panthers at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Lightning at Panthers, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Panthers at Lightning, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Lightning at Panthers, TBD

NEW YORK RANGERS v. CAROLINA HURRICANES
Game 1 – May 18: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 20: Rangers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Hurricanes at Rangers, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 24: Hurricanes at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 26: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Hurricanes at Rangers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Western Conference

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. ST. LOUIS BLUES (COL leads 1-0)
Game 1 – May 17: Avalanche 3, Blues 2 (OT)
Game 2 – May 19: Blues at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 21: Avalanche at Blues, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Avalanche at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Blues at Avalanche, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Avalanche at Blues, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Blues at Avalanche, TBD

CALGARY FLAMES v. EDMONTON OILERS
Game 1 –
May 18: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 2 – May 20: Oilers at Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 3 – May 22: Flames at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN2)
Game 4 – May 24: Flames at Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
*Game 5 – May 26: Oilers at Flames, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Flames at Oilers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Oilers at Flames, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

First Round – Eastern Conference

FLORIDA PANTHERS v. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (FLA wins series 4-2)
Game 1: Capitals 4, Panthers 2
Game 2: Panthers 5, Capitals 1
Game 3: Capitals 6, Panthers 1
Game 4: Panthers 3, Capitals 2 (OT)
Game 5: Panthers 5, Capitals 3
Game 6: Panthers 4, Capitals 3 (OT)

CAROLINA HURRICANES v. BOSTON BRUINS (CAR wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1
Game 2: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 2
Game 3: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 2
Game 4: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 2
Game 5: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1
Game 6: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 2
Game 7: Hurricanes 3, Bruins 2

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (TBL wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 0
Game 2: Lightning 5, Maple Leafs 3
Game 3: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 2
Game 4: Lightning 7, Maple Leafs 3
Game 5: Maple Leafs 4, Lightning 3
Game 6: Lightning 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Game 7: Lightning 2, Maple Leafs 1

NEW YORK RANGERS v. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NYR wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Penguins 4, Rangers 3 (3OT)
Game 2: Rangers 5, Penguins 2
Game 3: Penguins 7, Rangers 4
Game 4: Penguins 7, Rangers 2
Game 5: Rangers 5, Penguins 3
Game 6: Rangers 5, Penguins 3
Game 7: Rangers 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

First Round – Western Conference

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (COL wins series 4-0)
Game 1: Avalanche 7, Predators 2
Game 2: Avalanche 2, Predators 1 (OT)
Game 3: Avalanche 7, Predators 3
Game 4: Avalanche 5, Predators 3

CALGARY FLAMES v. DALLAS STARS (CGY wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Flames 1, Stars 0
Game 2: Stars 2, Flames 0
Game 3: Stars 4, Flames 2
Game 4: Flames 4, Stars 1
Game 5: Flames 3, Stars 1
Game 6: Stars 4, Flames 2
Game 7: Flames 3, Stars 2 (OT)

EDMONTON OILERS vs. LOS ANGELES KINGS (EDM win series 4-3)
Game 1: Kings 4, Oilers 3
Game 2: Oilers 6, Kings 0
Game 3: Oilers 8, Kings 2
Game 4: Kings 4, Oilers 0
Game 5: Kings 5, Oilers 4 (OT)
Game 6: Oilers 4, Kings 2
Game 7: Oilers 2, Kings 0

MINNESOTA WILD v. ST. LOUIS BLUES (STL wins series 4-2)
Game 1: Blues 4, Wild 0
Game 2: Wild 6, Blues 2
Game 3: Wild 5, Blues 1
Game 4: Blues 5, Wild 2
Game 5: Blues 5, Wild 2
Game 6: Blues 5, Wild 1

What is the longest overtime game in NHL playoff history?

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway and if you’re wondering what the longest overtime game in NHL playoff history is, we’ve got a list of the top 10 below.

Top 10 Longest Overtime Games in NHL Playoff History:

  1. 116:30, 6 OT – March 24, 1936: Detroit at Montreal Maroons (1936 NHL Semis)
  2. 104:46, 6 OT– April 3, 1933: Toronto vs. Boston (1933 NHL Semis)
  3. 92:01, 5 OT – May 4, 2000: Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (2000 Eastern Conference Semis)
  4. 90:27, 5 OT – August 11, 2020: Tampa Bay vs. Columbus (2020 East First Round)
  5. 80: 48, 5 OT – April 24, 2003: Anaheim at Dallas (2003 Western Conference Semis)
  6. 79:15, 4 OT – April 24, 1996: Pittsburgh at Washington (1996 Eastern Conference Quarters)
  7. 78:06, 4 OT – April 11, 2007: Vancouver vs. Dallas (2007 Western Conference Quarters)
  8. 70:18, 4 OT – March 23, 1943: Toronto at Detroit (1943 NHL Semis)
  9. 69:03, 4 OT – May 4, 2008: Dallas vs. San Jose (2008 Western Conference Semis)
  10. 68:52, 4 OT – March 28, 1930: Montreal vs. New York Rangers (1930 NHL Semis)

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Eastern Conference

FLORIDA PANTHERS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Game 1 – May 17: Lightning at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 19: Lightning at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Panthers at Lightning, 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Panthers at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Lightning at Panthers, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Panthers at Lightning, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Lightning at Panthers, TBD

NEW YORK RANGERS v. CAROLINA HURRICANES
Game 1 – May 18: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 20: Rangers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Hurricanes at Rangers, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 24: Hurricanes at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 26: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Hurricanes at Rangers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Western Conference

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. ST. LOUIS BLUES
Game 1 – May 17: Blues at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 19: Blues at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 21: Avalanche at Blues, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Avalanche at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Blues at Avalanche, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Avalanche at Blues, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Blues at Avalanche, TBD

CALGARY FLAMES v. EDMONTON OILERS
Game 1 –
May 18: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 2 – May 20: Oilers at Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 3 – May 22: Flames at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN2)
Game 4 – May 24: Flames at Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
*Game 5 – May 26: Oilers at Flames, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Flames at Oilers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Oilers at Flames, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

NHL Rink Wrap: Blues almost upset Avalanche; Lightning win Game 1

• Without Brayden Point in Game 1, the Lightning still beat the Panthers. While the score was misleading (4-1), Florida still has some thinking to do.

Jordan Binnington (and some post luck) helped the Blues get to overtime, but the Avalanche overcame that performance in Game 1.

• The NHL announced the 2022 Selke Trophy finalists: Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, and Elias Lindholm.

• Apparently Mitch Marner was the victim of a carjacking.

It’s not too late to read PHT’s Roundtable about the playoffs so far, with some looks at the future.

Game 1: Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Florida Panthers 1 (TBL leads 1-0)

To reiterate: the Lightning didn’t beat the Panthers to the degree that backs up the 4-1 score. This was a close one.

But, without Brayden Point and arguably with fresher legs, the Panthers have a lot to chew on after being largely muzzled by the Lightning in Game 1. In the end, this was an even contest at 5-on-5 when it came to high-danger chances, with Florida holding an early edge and Tampa Bay finishing strong.

There’s some comfort in that, yet also room for doubts. Some disturbing trends carried over from the Panthers’ work against the Capitals and Game 1 versus the Lightning. After going 0-for-18 vs. the Caps, Florida went 0-for-3 in Game 1. The Lightning struck three times on the power play.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

Beyond that, the Lightning slowed down the Panthers’ rush/transition game quite often, much like the Capitals did. For some speculation on how Florida may spark a better pace, check out this detailed recap.

Check the three stars for another story in this game: Tampa Bay’s stars really delivered.

Game 1: Colorado Avalanche 3, St. Louis Blues 2 [OT] (COL leads 1-0)

You know how the Panthers’ relentless offensive style hasn’t translated to the playoffs, at least yet? The Colorado Avalanche appear immune to such an affliction.

An improved Blues team struggled mightily with the Avalanche attack almost all Game 1 long, to the point that it was surprising that it went to overtime.

As you’ll note in the three stars section, Jordan Binnington was the main reason why. It’s also worth noting that the Avalanche hit at least five posts during this one.

Ideally, the Blues would be able to slow down the Avalanche, much like other teams can use tactics like a 1-3-1 trap to bottle up speedy teams. Could Colorado end up a unique animal in this regard, though?

Players like Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon can knife through defenses, neutralizing neutral-zone traps. Colorado also boasts a deeper rotation of puck-movers than most teams manage to pile up. It’s also noteworthy that the Blues emphasize skill more than size these days, opening up questions about how successful St. Louis would be trying to slow things down.

It’s the sort of thing that might make St. Louis throw a fit or three.

Three Stars in NHL Playoffs (Game 1 of Blues – Avalanche; Lightning – Panthers)

1. Jordan Binnington, Blues

Confession time: while Jordan Binnington earned a Game 1 start, I wondered if the Blues might eventually turn to Ville Husso.

A lot can change during a series, so maybe that will eventually happen. Perhaps Jordan Binnington may pass out from exhaustion after having to make so many saves?

Anyway, the Avalanche were almost unstoppable in pushing the pace against the Blues, but Binnington’s brilliance accounted for that “almost” part. Setting new career-highs, Jordan Binnington faced 54 shots and made 51 saves.

Incredible stuff.

2. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

Heading into the Lightning – Panthers series, people were aware that Brayden Point was hurt, and unlikely to play in Game 1. There were also rumblings than Nikita Kucherov isn’t healthy.

If Kucherov isn’t at full-strength, then it’s scary to imagine him at 100-percent.

At whatever level he is, Kucherov was the prime difference-maker in the Lightning’s Game 1 win against the Panthers. After making a move that forced MacKenzie Weegar to take a penalty, Kucherov made an even better juke to get Aaron Ekblad out of position, and set up an easy Corey Perry goal.

While that’s a bad gaffe by Ekblad, note that Kucherov pulled off these moves against high-quality blueliners (Weegar and Ekblad have, at times, quietly performed like stealth Norris finalists).

Kucherov also scored a key power play goal to turn a tense 2-1 contest into a comfortable 3-1 lead. You know all that talk (that’s now parodied) about Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau being “underrated?” They need to rise to Kucherov’s level if they want to get more of the spotlight.

(Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s 33 saves earn him an honorable mention.)

3. Josh Manson, Avalanche

By certain metrics, Josh Manson hasn’t been a slam-dunk-addition for the Avs. That trade deadline move feels more successful after the success he had in Game 1.

Josh Manson scored the overtime-winner, assisted on Samuel Girard‘s 2-1 tally, and drew the penalty that trickled into OT, and caused Brayden Schenn to lose his mind and damage a camera.

Not a bad night’s work.

THURSDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 1: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 1: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Avalanche vs. Blues

Lightning vs. Panthers
Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
NHL Second Round predictions
Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info

The Second Round of the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins on Tuesday, May 17. The final four teams in the Eastern Conference are the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Out in the Western Conference it will be the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and St. Louis Blues.

The winners of the four Second Round series will meet in the 2022 Conference Finals.

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Eastern Conference

FLORIDA PANTHERS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (TBL leads 1-0)

Game 1 – May 17: Lightning 4, Panthers 1
Game 2 – May 19: Lightning at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Panthers at Lightning, 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Panthers at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Lightning at Panthers, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Panthers at Lightning, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Lightning at Panthers, TBD

NEW YORK RANGERS v. CAROLINA HURRICANES
Game 1 – May 18: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 20: Rangers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Hurricanes at Rangers, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 24: Hurricanes at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 26: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Hurricanes at Rangers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Western Conference

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. ST. LOUIS BLUES (COL leads 1-0)
Game 1 – May 17: Avalanche 3, Blues 2 [OT]
Game 2 – May 19: Blues at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 21: Avalanche at Blues, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Avalanche at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Blues at Avalanche, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Avalanche at Blues, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Blues at Avalanche, TBD

CALGARY FLAMES v. EDMONTON OILERS
Game 1 –
May 18: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 2 – May 20: Oilers at Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 3 – May 22: Flames at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN2)
Game 4 – May 24: Flames at Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
*Game 5 – May 26: Oilers at Flames, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Flames at Oilers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Oilers at Flames, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

First Round – Eastern Conference

FLORIDA PANTHERS v. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (FLA wins series 4-2)
Game 1: Capitals 4, Panthers 2
Game 2: Panthers 5, Capitals 1
Game 3: Capitals 6, Panthers 1
Game 4: Panthers 3, Capitals 2 (OT)
Game 5: Panthers 5, Capitals 3
Game 6: Panthers 4, Capitals 3 (OT)

CAROLINA HURRICANES v. BOSTON BRUINS (CAR wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1
Game 2: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 2
Game 3: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 2
Game 4: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 2
Game 5: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1
Game 6: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 2
Game 7: Hurricanes 3, Bruins 2

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (TBL wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 0
Game 2: Lightning 5, Maple Leafs 3
Game 3: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 2
Game 4: Lightning 7, Maple Leafs 3
Game 5: Maple Leafs 4, Lightning 3
Game 6: Lightning 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Game 7: Lightning 2, Maple Leafs 1

NEW YORK RANGERS v. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NYR wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Penguins 4, Rangers 3 (3OT)
Game 2: Rangers 5, Penguins 2
Game 3: Penguins 7, Rangers 4
Game 4: Penguins 7, Rangers 2
Game 5: Rangers 5, Penguins 3
Game 6: Rangers 5, Penguins 3
Game 7: Rangers 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

First Round – Western Conference

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (COL wins series 4-0)
Game 1: Avalanche 7, Predators 2
Game 2: Avalanche 2, Predators 1 (OT)
Game 3: Avalanche 7, Predators 3
Game 4: Avalanche 5, Predators 3

CALGARY FLAMES v. DALLAS STARS (CGY wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Flames 1, Stars 0
Game 2: Stars 2, Flames 0
Game 3: Stars 4, Flames 2
Game 4: Flames 4, Stars 1
Game 5: Flames 3, Stars 1
Game 6: Stars 4, Flames 2
Game 7: Flames 3, Stars 2 (OT)

EDMONTON OILERS vs. LOS ANGELES KINGS (EDM win series 4-3)
Game 1: Kings 4, Oilers 3
Game 2: Oilers 6, Kings 0
Game 3: Oilers 8, Kings 2
Game 4: Kings 4, Oilers 0
Game 5: Kings 5, Oilers 4 (OT)
Game 6: Oilers 4, Kings 2
Game 7: Oilers 2, Kings 0

MINNESOTA WILD v. ST. LOUIS BLUES (STL wins series 4-2)
Game 1: Blues 4, Wild 0
Game 2: Wild 6, Blues 2
Game 3: Wild 5, Blues 1
Game 4: Blues 5, Wild 2
Game 5: Blues 5, Wild 2
Game 6: Blues 5, Wild 1

Roundtable: First Round impressions; potential Second Round upsets

Which player or team impressed you the most during the First Round?

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Does it have to be a player from a team that won? Because Jake Oettinger was unbelievable. Not only in Game 7, but that entire series. I never would have guessed he would take over the job so quickly, especially given the way their depth chart looked at the start of the season, but that net is his now and he looks sensational. What a performance. He almost single handedly willed that team to the Second Round.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Jake Oettinger impressed me the most in the opening round. He was absolutely sensational, especially in Game 7 when he stopped 64 shots as the Flames threw everything but the kitchen sink at Dallas. It’s too bad the Stars started Oettinger in the minors to start the season, playing Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin, as they could have finished higher than the first wild card which would have given them possibly an easier matchup.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL contentConnor McDavid. Considering the circumstances, he delivered arguably the best two games of his career in Games 6 and 7 with his team facing elimination against the Kings. In Game 7, with Leon Draisaitl injured and having a reduced impact, McDavid played a whopping 27:23 and factored on both goals in the 2-0 win. Time will tell how much further he can carry the Oilers.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

James O’Brien, NHL writer: As great as Cale Makar was, Connor McDavid was absolutely superhuman. Deep down, I’m not sure how anyone can truly believe that he isn’t the best player in the NHL.

From a team-wide perspective, the Avalanche look like the juggernauts we expected.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Carter Verhaeghe showed us during the regular season he’s a very good player and that performance rolled over into the postseason with 12 points in six games against the Capitals. The loaded Lightning didn’t have room on the roster for him so the Panthers signed him and he’s blossomed with them, becoming one of their most valuable contributors in a lineup that is built to win a Stanley Cup. All of Verhaeghe’s points came at even strength with two of his goals coming via overtime.

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Which Second Round series has the biggest potential to end in upset?

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: The Blues/Avalanche series. St. Louis has the depth and talent to hang with Colorado, especially after the Blues pretty easily dismantled the Wild to close them out (outscoring MIN 15-5 in Games 4-6). The question mark I have with the Avs is with their mental fortitude – this group has yet to prove it can overcome adversity within a series and still emerge victorious – so if Jordan Binnington can channel the best version of his game and steal one or two wins early on, maybe things will tilt in St. Louis’ favor.

James O’Brien, NHL writer: I’m going to go ahead and cancel out either team in the Battle of Florida, as that seems like cheating.

Despite a pile of serious injuries, the Rangers looked awful against the Penguins, yet advanced for the same reason I picked them to win: they’ve been really, really lucky this season. Few remaining teams maintain those elements of luck like the Rangers still do: a power play that can get hot, some dangerous high-end talent, and Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin could only do so much last round, but absolutely has the ability to swing a series.

Most of the truly flawed playoff teams fell in the First Round, so buckle up for a fun ride.

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: I am going to take the easy way out here and say Florida-Tampa Bay because, well, I am not really sure who the upset would be? I could see either team winning it, and depending on who you see as the favorite (Florida for the better regular season record; Tampa Bay as defending back-to-back champions and with the experience) it could end up as an upset in your eyes. Florida is probably the favorite on paper this season, but I see Tampa Bay winning it. 

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: I don’t know if I would consider it an upset, but the Tampa Bay Lightning finished 12 points behind the Florida Panthers. The Lightning are the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions and seem to be able to turn it on when they need to. The Panthers will need outstanding goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky and I am not sure he is capable of doing so in the playoffs.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: During many postseasons we get a hot goalie — someone who will carry a team through a few rounds, maybe even to a Stanley Cup. As wild as it might be, is it crazy to think Mike Smith can’t keep up this heater he’s been on since April? In 16 regular season and playoff games played since the start of April, Smith has a .943 5-on-5 save percentage and a 2.19 goals saved above average, per Natural Stat Trick. The Flames already almost got goalie’d in the First Round by Jake Oettinger. Maybe Smith can hold the fort while McDavid, Draisaitl, Kane, and Oilers power play lead the way?

PHT Morning Skate: Point ‘highly doubtful’ for Game 1; Second Round officials

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.

• After missing most of the final two periods of Game 7 vs. the Maple Leafs, the Lightning will likely be without Brayden Point when they start their series against the Panthers. [Tampa Bay Times]

• Here are your officials for the Second Round, which won’t include Kevin Pollock, T.J. Luxemore, and Shandor Alphonso. [Scouting the Refs]

• When they needed him the most, Johnny Gaudreau delivered for the Flames. [Flames Nation]

• A good look at just how impactful Connor McDavid was for the Oilers in the First Round. [TSN]

• Some NHL coaching news from Monday: Lane Lambert will replace Barry Trotz behind the Islanders’ bench and Peter DeBoer is out in Las Vegas.

• “Toronto Maple Leafs star winger Mitch Marner ‘is OK, just rattled,’ after he was carjacked in Etobicoke on Monday. Toronto police said that the carjacking happened at about 7:45 p.m. Monday at the Queensway and Islington Avenue, near Cineplex Cinemas, where the suspects stole Marner’s Black Range Rover at gunpoint.” [The Star]

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

• Even with their coming salary cap hell, could the Wild find a way to keep both Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot? [Pioneer Press]

• Golden Knights captain Mark Stone needs back surgery this offseason but he should be ready when training camp opens in September. [Review-Journal]

• “Momentum can create false hope. It can lead to a skewed view of progress which can delay development. As a team, the Sabres made tremendous leaps in style of play, competitiveness, and confidence. They ended the season with wins in five of the last six games and leaving everyone wanting more. That’s good! Does it mean anything to how next year will go? Not one bit! But starting next season with a lot of confidence and knowledge of how they can play when they’ve got it together is something to use.” [Noted Hockey]

• Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson plans to take his time in finding a new head coach. [NBC Sports Chicago]

• Stars goalie Jake Oettinger on his breakthrough season: “I learned how fun the playoffs are and that’s what it’s all about, being in these situations and giving yourself an opportunity to win. So, I’ve never been more motivated than I am right now and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that I get this opportunity again and I’ll make sure I’m on the other side of it the next time.” [NHL.com]

• The Predators have signed 2020 first rounder Iaroslav Askarov to a three-year entry-level contract. [A to Z Sports Nashville]

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

2022 NHL Playoffs: Second Round predictions

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are now down to eight teams after a First Round where all but two of the higher seeds advanced and we finished with a weekend that gave us five Game 7s.

For the Second Round we have rematches of recent playoff series, plus the first postseason Battle of Alberta since 1991. Will the Panthers end the Lightning’s quest for a three-peat? Can the Rangers continue their magic? Is this the year the Avalanche finally reach the Western Conference Final? Will Brady Tkachuk find himself inside Rogers Place to root on brother Matthew?

On to the Second Round predictions!

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

SECOND ROUND – EASTERN CONFERENCE

PANTHERS vs. LIGHTNING

Adam: Lightning in 7. The Lightning are not the same team that they have been the past two seasons, but you are not going to get rid of them easily. They got through the First Round with Andrei Vasilevskiy looking human. He can be better, and I think he will be. If he is, I am still not sure how anybody beats them. I like their experience and goaltending over a Florida team that was probably very fortunate to get by Washington.

Jake: Lightning in 7. Anyone who doubted the Lightning may be reconsidering how they view this team after Tampa rallied to eliminate Toronto. Simply put, it will take a supreme effort to knock out the Bolts, and while Brayden Point’s injury is cause for concern, I am still going to bet on this championship group to keep hopes of a three-peat alive.

James: Lightning in 6. Here’s a take for you: while the Panthers were exposed at times last go-around with the Lightning, it also felt like their pace made Tampa Bay uncomfortable at times. If the Panthers can take advantage of their younger legs and make this a track meet, the three-peat could go incomplete. There’s concern about all that mileage on the Bolts, but they just keep finding ways to get things done.

Michael: Lightning in 6. The Lightning had a very tough matchup with the Maple Leafs and finally Andrei Vasilevskiy played like his old self in the last four periods of the season. The Lightning have too much experience and will prevail as Sergei Bobrovsky will have his troubles in net in Round 2.

Sean: Panthers in 6. There’s room to improve here for the Cats, especially from Sergei Bobrovsky, who would like to further vanquish his postseason demons. It won’t be easy in this rematch from 2021. The Lightning know how to bounce back from defeats (17-0 since 2020!) and still have Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes. But Tampa Bay has played a lot of hockey over the last two seasons, and this series is the only one this round with a back-to-back scheduled. Is that an edge to Florida? We’ll see. There’s also a revenge factor here from the 2021 series to Carter Verhaeghe wanting to show his old team what they lost.

HURRICANES vs. RANGERS

Adam: Hurricanes in 5. The Rangers have their share of talent, and there is always the chance Igor Shesterkin can go on a heater at any moment and just steal some games, but I don’t see it happening here for the Rangers. They are going to have to play light years better in this round than they did in the First Round if they are going to have any chance of winning, because not only is Carolina younger and faster than Pittsburgh, the Rangers are also not going to be using an AHL goalie in this series. Carolina is the better team and the Rangers have some major defensive issues.

Jake: Hurricanes in 6. This is an intriguing matchup – and not just because it’s the Tony DeAngelo Bowl. On one side, you have an incredibly balanced Hurricanes team, who excel at 5-on-5 play and smother you defensively. On the other side, you have a top-heavy Rangers squad who can seem outmatched at times, but because of their star players and world class goalie, can never be counted out. I’m going with Carolina just because the Rangers have too many holes in their game. New York had the benefit of facing a 3rd-string goalie for most of the Pittsburgh series and a superior team to the Penguins (which I believe the Hurricanes are) would have had no trouble closing the Rangers out after building up that 3-1 series lead.

James: Hurricanes in 5. Perhaps the ramshackle Rangers’ defensive structure won’t be exposed as glaringly against a very different type of possession animal in the up-tempo, puck-chucking Hurricanes. But, seeing a banged-up Penguins team often dominate the Rangers (and negate some of the Igor Shesterkin edge) eased much doubt about this one. Then again, it’s hockey, and the Hurricanes get “goalie’d” about as often as the Penguins, so there’s room for an upset.

Michael: Hurricanes in 7. While Shesterkin played well in Game 7, he really has not played up to his level since March 10. The Hurricanes have home ice advantage and that will be major if it goes seven games. I like the Hurricanes depth at forward to carry them to the series win while Raanta has provided the team with excellent goaltending.

Sean: Rangers in 6. We’ve yet to see regular season Igor Shesterkin in the playoffs and maybe that First Round debut against the Penguins got his feet wet enough that now the Hurricanes could be in trouble. The Rangers did not quit versus Pittsburgh and while pushing a series to seven games could lead to some tired legs, how New York advanced is enough to supply further adrenaline and motivation against Carolina.

Derek Leung/Getty Images

SECOND ROUND – WESTERN CONFERENCE

AVALANCHE vs. BLUES

Adam: Avalanche in 5. My actual prediction for this series is pure chaos. Connor McDavid looks like a man on a mission this postseason and I think he is going to steal a couple of games. But the Flames have the coach, the defense, the depth, and the goalie to get the edge.

Jake: Avalanche in 6. I do think the Blues can challenge the Avalanche, but ultimately I am going to ride with Colorado. They have been able to rest, have the best roster, and seem destined to finally break through. However, we’ll see how powerful the Curse of the Second Round is.

James: Avalanche in 6. Gee, the Blues sure seem to be in a better place than last time these two teams met, when the Avalanche swept them like you’d shoo away a fly. Ryan O’Reilly is the sort of player who could slow down some of Colorado’s weapons, and the Blues have a versatile array of attackers. But the Avalanche are fresh, Cale Makar is at the height of his powers, and the Blues’ blueline personnel can keep up.

Michael: Avalanche in 5. The Oilers will gain a lot of confidence from their first round win and have Connor McDavid carry them once again to victory over their provincial rivals. Calgary had trouble scoring against the Stars (Jake Oettinger was sensational) but it is tougher to score in the playoffs and that will be Calgary’s downfall.

Sean: Avalanche in 6. We’re looking at a Blues team this year with better skill than year’s past. The breakthroughs of Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas helped them to a very good season and helped supplement an already solid offense. But the Avalanche are the Avalanche and they made quick work of the Predators in the First Round. Can Jordan Binnington slow them?I don’t think he can for very long, but just enough to make it a series. Colorado has learned the lessons of the past and what it takes to make a deep playoff run. It’s all there for them this season.

FLAMES vs. OILERS

Adam: Flames in 7. My actual prediction for this series is pure chaos. Connor McDavid looks like a man on a mission this postseason and I think he is going to steal a couple of games. But the Flames have the coach, the defense, the depth, and the goalie to get the edge.

Jake: Flames in 6. The Oilers barely squeaked by the Kings, who were missing their best defenseman and 4th-leading scorer for the entire series. Now Leon Draisaitl is significantly hurt. Calgary should have the advantage here, particularly if Tyler Toffoli and Matthew Tkachuk – who ended slumps in Game 7 with their first goals of the postseason – can catch fire.

James: Flames in 7. We were so, so close to being deprived of a Battle of Alberta, but we’re getting a delicious one. The Flames combine the possession mastery of the Kings (which gave the Oilers fits) with high-end talent that can finish those plays far more often. The Oilers have the highest of high-end talent in Connor McDavid, but a more complete Calgary team takes this.

Michael: Oilers in 6. The Oilers will gain a lot of confidence from their first round win and have Connor McDavid carry them once again to victory over their provincial rivals. Calgary had trouble scoring against the Stars (Jake Oettinger was sensational) but it is tougher to score in the playoffs and that will be Calgary’s downfall.

Sean: Flames in 6. Hard to believe between all the playoff format changes this is the first Battle of Alberta playoff series in 31 years. We’re going to get some very physical games, probably a suspension or three, and some star power between McDavid Gaudreau, Lindholm, Markstrom, Draisaitl, and the rest. While Mike Smith has been on a run of late, I can’t see him out-dueling Markstrom over the course of the series, and I think that will be a huge factor. The Flames got goalie’d by Jake Oettinger in the First Round and I don’t see that happening again here.