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Without any fans in the stands, the NHL Playoffs’ have been nothing but spectacular. Games are being played in a neutral playing field and at the conclusion of the first round, we have some dark horse teams still in the hunt for the Cup. Here’s what to look for and what happened thus far.
Eastern Conference Summary for the first-round – Toronto, Scotiabank Arena
The Columbus Blue Jackets’ proved that they could play up to the task of their opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning, but ultimately couldn’t match up properly. The Barry Trotz’ lead New York Islanders put the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs once again in the first round which has happened now in back-to-back years since winning their Stanley Cup in 2018.
The Boston Bruins shook off the rust from losing in the cup qualifiers and bounced back handling the Carolina Hurricanes to advance.The Philadelphia Flyers were the last team to advance to the next round by eliminating the Montreal Canadians.
Eastern Conference second-round match-ups:
Boston Bruins versus the Tampa Bay Lightning
What to expect: These familiar foes face-off yet again in the playoffs. Expect hard fought and physical gritty games between these two powerhouse teams.
Players to watch: Brad Marchand, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman will be the players to focus on.
Prediction: Bruins in seven games.
New York Islanders versus Philadelphia Flyers
What to expect: The Islanders are coming off a pretty dominant series win over the Washington Capitals and look to push their defensive game on the Flyers. The team who is more discipline in this series will win. Expect a lot of power plays.
Players to watch: Both captains Anders Lee (Islanders) and Claude Giroux (Flyers) are the players to focus on.
Prediction: Islanders in six games.
Western Conference summary for the first-round – Edmonton, Roger’s Place Arena
The Colorado Avalanche offensively crushed the Arizona Coyotes and the Dallas Stars closed out the Calgary Flames with Denis Gurianov scoring four goals in the series. The “Dark Horse” Vancouver Canucks shocked the defending Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues by staying resilient on the forecheck and ultimately scoring on Blues’ goalie Jordan Binnington. The Vegas Golden Knights out shot the Chicago Blackhawks the entire series and weren’t phased at all winning in five games.
Western Conference second-round series match-ups:
Colorado Avalanche versus Dallas Stars
What to expect: If you’re a hockey fan who loves watching high scoring affairs, this series will give you what you wish for. The Stars and Avalanche won their respective first-round series by scoring seven goals before the last horn went off.
Players to watch: Nathan MacKinnon and Jamie Benn are the players of focus point in this series.
Prediction: Avalanche in six games.
Vegas Golden Knights versus Vancouver Canucks
What to expect: The Canucks are a fast paced offensively team who want to score goals at a high level. The only problem is so does the Golden Knights. This series will rely a lot on experience in the later stages of games so it’ll be interesting to see.
Players to watch: Mark Stone and Elias Pettersson are the players to watch for in this series.
Prediction: Golden Knights in six games.