Islanders in 7
The Bruins were able to take control of their series after a huge mistake from Capitals Goalie Ilya Samsonov allowing a goal in double overtime of Game 3. At the same time, the Islanders rode Ilya Sorokin to a victory over the Penguins. If you’re looking for an exciting series, then this series will not be one for you. Both teams relied on their well-coached defense and outstanding goalies to get past the first round, so expect a hard-fought defensive battle. Both teams have some of the best defensive lines, with McAvoy-Grzelcyk and Pelech-Pulock in the top-five for expected goal differential per Tucker Boynton. The Bruins have a more talented roster overall, but the Islanders and Sorokin have similar vibes to the 2019 Blues when they relied on Binnington throughout the playoffs. Another important note was the regular-season series between these two teams. The Islanders dominated the Bruins, winning the first five games, but the Bruins seem to have figured the Islanders out winning the final three regular-season games. If a revamped Bruins team with Taylor Hall continues the success they had against the Islanders in the final three games, the Bruins could take control of the series early. With two hot goalies, both teams need to capitalize on the limited opportunities that they will have.
Lightning in 6
This is the closest series, with the lightning being -120 favorites while the Hurricanes opened at -100 underdogs. With the addition of Kucherov, the Lightning showed how powerful their offense is as they took advantage of weak goaltending from the Panthers all series long. Everyone knew former Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov would have a big impact after being out for most of the regular season. Still, Kucherov exceeded all expectations scoring three goals and eight assists in just six games. If Kucherov continues at this pace, then the Lightning will be able to challenge an incredibly efficient Hurricane’s defense. On the other side, the Hurricanes had four games go to overtime against the Predators and should be prepared for another tough battle against the Lightning. This is another series with two outstanding goalies who were incredibly consistent in the first round. The Hurricanes, however, had to face Jusse Saros, who challenged the Hurricanes a lot more than the Panthers goalies challenged the Lightning. Both teams know what it takes to win in the playoffs, and the experience throughout each lineup should make this series competitive and exciting. Unless Vassilevsky has a subpar series, then the Lightning should be able to take advantage of their superior offense and win the series.
Golden Knights in 7
Unfortunately, the two best teams in the NHL face off so early in the playoffs, but this should be one of the best matchups we see this year. The Wild took the Golden Knights to seven games showing how competitive of a division the West was this year, while the Avalanche were not challenged at all by the Blues. The Avalanche will be better rested, and the Golden Knights will be more battle-tested. It’s a toss-up to say which situation is better, but I think I would rather be the Golden Knights. The Avalanche need to come out ready to compete against a Golden Knights team that was pushed to their limit in the first round. Nathan MacKinnon is leading the playoffs in Goals despite only playing in four games, so the top Avalanche line needs to continue scoring against Fleury, who had an incredible series against a talented Wild Roster. Compared to some of the other goalies remaining in the playoffs, Gubaur is probably the biggest weakness on the Avalanche. With two very consistent and high-powered offenses, this series should have a lot of goals and incredibly close games. Still, Fleury gives the Golden Knights an edge in goaltending that could be the determining factor between two very evenly matched teams. The Avalanche are currently Cup favorites as well-meaning that whoever comes out on top will certainly be the favorite going into the conference finals.