Posts tagged Stanley Cup playoffs
Stanley Cup Playoffs conference final preview
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals
Season Series: 2-1 TB

The Washington Capitals take on the Tampa Bay Lightning as two of the most talented lineups face off. The Capitals finally conquered their demons in the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 6-game series win last round. Their first round started horribly with two home losses but a switch to Braden Holtby was a huge change and they haven’t looked back since. The Tampa Bay Lightning have rolled through the first two rounds by beating the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins in 5 games each. The games haven’t all been one-sided blowouts but their playoffs have started just like their season did as they were dominant.

Alex Ovechkin will look to make the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in his illustrious career and has led this team through two tough opponents with 8 goals and 15 points. John Carlson leads all players with 10 powerplay points in the playoffs. The Lightning offense is very balanced and led by their two superstars in Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. The surprise for them has been Brayden Point with 10 points in 10 games for the team while Andrei Vasilevskiy has been lights out at home for the team.

The Capitals and Lightning both display elite powerplay units and the team who lacks discipline may be on the fast track to an early exit. Washington has been known to disappoint and fall apart with this core but after finally beating the Penguins, this could mean big things for the team. That being said, the Lightning have such a strong balance with their team and a return to their early season form may make them unstoppable.

(TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

(TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

Winnipeg Jets vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Season series: 2-1 VGK

The Winnipeg Jets take on the Vegas Golden Knights in a matchup nobody would’ve predicted to happen here at the conference finals. The Jets dismantled the Minnesota Wild before engaging in a grueling 7-game series against the Nashville Predators. The Knights completely shut down the LA Kings in the first round before taking down the Sharks in 6-games.

The Knights top line guided them in this series with Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith combining for 25 points in round 2. Marc-Andre Fleury continued his stellar play with 2 more shutouts against the Sharks as his save percentage is an astounding .951 with a 1.53 Goals Against Average.

The Winnipeg Jets are the best Canadian team since the 2011 Vancouver Canucks and will also look to climb into the Finals. Mark Scheifele leads the league in goals in these playoffs with 7 more this round. Blake Wheeler led the league in assists in round 2 with 9 helpers while Dustin Byfuglien leads all defensemen with 13 points in these playoffs. Connor Hellebuyck has provided very strong goaltending for the team and has been proven to have the clutch gene.

The battle between the Jets high end powerplay and the Golden Knights elite penalty kill will be an interesting battle. Both these teams have never been here before so the nerves will be hitting both sides hard, it will be interesting to see which group of experienced players pull ahead. Fleury could use his ring-winning ways to lead the charge for the Vegas along with their amazing top line. Or the Jets could build off of solid goaltending to boast their high-powered offense that overwhelms the resilient Vegas squad.

Stanley Cup Playoffs roundup

We are roughly halfway through the second round of the NHL Playoffs and it sure looks good already. I have said before that all these matchups will provide entertaining hockey and it has delivered so far.

Three series are three games into the series while one is at two games. Every team remaining has at least one win this round so no sweeps. Every series started 1-1 so the teams’ abilities to win on the road will be tested in these playoffs and is incredibly important for these playoffs.

(Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

(Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are tied up at 1-1 in the series. Boston came out firing in game 1 to stun the Lightning who managed to rally back for the game 2 win. The Bruins top line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak have been outstanding so far combining for 15 points in just 2 games! The Lightning really started slowly but they bounced back in game 2 led by young playmaker Brayden Point who had a goal and 3 assists to even the series. Boston will be very pleased to split the opening 2 road games, especially after a tough 7 game series. However, Tampa Bay is a very dangerous team and they can win in Boston so this series could go the distance.

(AP Photo / Nic Wass)

(AP Photo / Nic Wass)

The Washington Capitals just pulled ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins with a crucial win tonight in Pittsburgh. This series was split in Washington but the Capitals used that home loss as fuel to silence the home crowd in game 3 in a thrilling back-and-forth affair. Jake Guentzel has continued his hot play with 6 more points already this series with Sidney Crosby pitching in 5. Alex Ovechkin is leading the way for the Capitals with 3 goals and 2 assists in the first 3 games. The Penguins should treat game 4 as a must win as they cannot afford to go down 3-1 in the series with the capitals having two chances to win it at home. Washington is in a good position right now but you can never count out Pittsburgh.

(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

The Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators are in the midst of a very high scoring series. They have combined for 25 goals so far in the series and it doesn’t look like they will be slowing down. The Jets were able to steal a road win in Nashville and have won the first game on their home turf. Mark Scheifele leads the league in points this round with 7 including a league-high 4 goals in the series. Blake Wheeler also has 6 points while Dustin Byfuglien leads all defensemen with 5 points. The Preds star forward Filip Forsberg has 5 points while star defenseman PK Subban has 4 points. Pekka Rinne has been very shaky for the Preds and if can’t pull it together than this might be it for them. The Jets are doing very well but their inexperience could be the cause of a collapse this round so they will need to stay focused.

(Benjamin Hager / Las Vegas Review Journal)

(Benjamin Hager / Las Vegas Review Journal)

The Vegas Golden Knights are in a heated battle with the San Jose Sharks this round. This series for Vegas involves over twice as many goals per game as their first round, as there were 10 total goals in 4 games last round while this round the teams have combined for 21. The top line of Karlsson, Marchessault and Smith have been lights out combining for 19 points in 3 games. Brent Burns leads the Sharks with 4 points while Logan Couture also has a couple of goals. The discipline issues and hatred in this series are on full display as these teams have contributed 95 penalty minutes in the first 3 games. If these penalties continue, the team with the best special teams units will succeed. The contrast of San Jose’s lengthy playoff experience vs. Vegas being an expansion team is an interesting consideration for the outcome of the series.