Key Matchups-

John Tavares and Victor Hedman go head-to-head in this second round matchup. Tavares has the edge by a small margin. In previous matchups against the Lightning he’s narrowly beat Hedman in scoring and possession. Hedman is a two-way defenseman who can create some serious offense. Hedman will be expected to play an excess of 25 minutes per game to keep Tavares at bay while it will also be put on him to up his game offensively and contribute on the power play.

An additional matchup to watch out for is between the team’s respective goalies, Thomas Greiss and Ben Bishop. Both teams have confidence in their goaltenders as they have proven that they can stop pucks to prop their teams up for wins. Greiss gave up just 13 goals on 234 shots in the first round for a 1.79 goals-against average and a .944 save-percentage. Bishop faced 160 shots against Detroit, allowing eight goals in five games for a 1.61 GAA and .950 save percentage. It will be interesting to see how these two do on opposite ends of the ice from each other in this series, but with Bishop posting a save percentage no lower than .916 and a goals-against average no higher than 2.37 in any month this regular season. He has the edge over Greiss.

Tampa Bay Lightning-

The Lightning have proven that one or two players do not make a team’s success by pulling through the first round without their best player Steven Stamkos and their second-best defenseman Anton Stralman. That is a testament to the tremendous depth that this team boasts. Stamkos is unlikely to return during the series; though he has been seen practicing, he is still on blood thinners and cannot take contact as of yet. He has been out since having surgery on April 4th to treat a blood clot near his right collarbone, but the Bolts topline has held up offensively in his absence. Stralman is out with a broken left fibula and the void he left on the blueline has been hard to fill. Stralman is second only to Victor Hedman in importance on the Tampa Bay blueline. He effectively moves the puck and he’s defensively sound while he has the ability to produce offensively, as evidenced by his nine goals and 34 points in 73 games this season. Stralman has not skated since his injury, but may return during this round. J.T. Brown is sidelined with an upper-body injury as well. That all being said the Lightning are not worried without these players as the team has already pushed aside the Detroit Red Wings in five games in the first round. This is a team with depth and no one player carries it through with or without the players currently missing.

Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov made their mark in the first round against the Red Wings, scoring 10 of the Lightning’s 12 goals. Kucherov had five goals, and his eight points led the Lightning. Killorn had three goals, and Johnson tied a Lightning record with four points in Game 2, and had seven points (two goals, five assists) in the series. Ondrej Palat, Valtteri Filppula, and Jonathan Drouin all made contributions. Drouin had four assists in the first round; three came in Game 4, including one on Palat’s game-winning goal. He had 13 shots in the series, but it’s important that they do more to improved secondary scoring to compliment the top line.

The Lightning defense struggled with giveaways in the first round, forcing goalie Bishop to make some difficult saves. Bishop made 34 saves to help Tampa Bay close out its first-round series against Detroit with a 1-0 Game 5 victory. It was the fourth Stanley Cup Playoff shutout of his career and the third to end a series. The Lightning also blocked 82 shots in the five-game series; many of them on the penalty kill, with forwards Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan leading the way. Both teams like to play a fast game and both fight to the finish, so there will be potential for high scoring and overtime.

NY Islanders-

The New York Islanders have not been in the second round since advancing to the Wales Conference Final in 1993. They lost seven straight first round series before ending the Florida Panthers playoff run in six games. John Tavares’ efforts pushed the Isles through the final months of the season with 14 goals, 29 points and an average ice time of 20 minutes over the final 29 games of the Islanders’ season. Tavares then scored when New York needed it most in the post-season. He scored five goals and nine points in six games, and racked up 34:49 minutes in the Game 6 victory.

Right wing Kyle Okposo had a goal and five assists in six games and is expected to be one of the most sought after free agents in the offseason; especially if he continues to perform well in New York’s continued playoff run. Travis Hamonic, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy form a powerhouse top three; each racking up minutes on the ice. Nick Leddy had three assists in six games and played nearly 80 minutes combined during the final two games of the series, and he boasts a phenomenal skating ability that’s become a great asset to his team. Leddy is paired with Travis Hamonic. Hamonic is solid at both ends of the ice. He played more than 39 minutes in the double-overtime win Sunday. Johnny Boychuk adds experience and leadership as he was a Stanley Cup Champion in 2011 with the Boston Bruins, and although he struggled early in the first round he seems to have found his stride. Calvin de Haan is a smart player and continues to show a willingness to sacrifice himself in order to make a play; de Haan blocked 18 shots in the first round. Secondary scoring will be needed in this round. It will be important for players to get shots on goal even if they aren’t pretty.

Tampa Bay cannot match New York’s muscle and physicality from their blueline to their checking forwards. Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin are brutal on the forecheck. The Isles averaged 43 hits per game in Round 1, more than every team except the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers. Tampa averaged 29.

The Islanders were 23.8 percent (5-for-21) with the man-advantage in the first round. Thanks in part to Greiss, New York had a strong penalty kill in the first round going 13-for-15. Jaroslav Halak continues to heal from a lower-body injury as Thomas Greiss’s effectiveness in goal has made the argument that he should retain the starting position in Round 2 regardless of Halak’s health.

Prediction: Lightning in 6

Follow us on Twitter @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey

Read our analysis of the Lightning and the Islanders Round 1 matchups to learn more about these teams.

Key Matchup-

Young Aleksander Barkov has made big moves this season and he will be matched up against elite John Tavares. Tavares has beat Barkov in possession while Barkov has narrowly beat out Tavares in scoring. It will be interesting seeing these two centers go up against each other again.

Florida Panthers-

Winning Formula: 

The Panthers get on the board quickly and takes any opportunity they can to score. The team’s highest point of the past season was an impressive twelve game winning streak with racked up 25 goals on their part. Roberto Luongo will also play a big park in any success as he returns to form in the crease.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  

The Panthers tend to score early, but cannot always sustain that momentum. They are going into these playoffs with a negative scoring differential in the third period and were just 1-6 in overtime games. In past playoffs OT has been a regular occurrence so that does not bode with for the Panthers unless they can keep the same momentum from start to finish.

NY Islanders-

Winning Formula:

The Islanders play one of the most physical games in the NHL. They are brutal on the teams they face and Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin lead the bashing from the fourth line. The Isles surprisingly have one of the least penalized teams in the league and a superb penalty kill. They have a balanced team where everyone makes a contribution which is vital in a playoff run.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: 

John Tavares has struggled this last season to produce compared to past seasons. The team is average compared to others in terms of puck possession. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak is out with a lower body injury and if he returns it is questioned if he could play at the same caliber as before he was injured right off the bat. Thomas Greiss is in backup, but the playoffs have a way of breaking even the best goalies, and Greiss has not made more than 25 appearances in an NHL season until this one.

Prediction: Panthers in 6

Follow us on Twitter @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey

grail

EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST-ROUND MATCHUPS
SERIES A – A1 vs. W1 TIME (ET) Ottawa-Montreal NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 15 7 p.m. Ottawa at Montreal CBC, TVA Sports, NHL Network
Friday, April 17  7 p.m. Ottawa at Montreal CBC, TVA Sports, CNBC
Sunday, April 19 7 p.m. Montreal at Ottawa CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Wednesday, April 22 7 p.m. Montreal at Ottawa CBC, TVA Sports, USA
*Friday, April 24  TBD Ottawa at Montreal CBC
*Sunday, April 26  TBD Montreal at Ottawa CBC
*Tuesday, April 28  TBD Ottawa at Montreal CBC
SERIES B – A2 vs. A3 TIME (ET) Detroit-Tampa Bay NETWORKS
Thursday, April 16 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Tampa Bay CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 18 3 p.m. Detroit at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 21 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Detroit NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Thursday, April 23 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Detroit NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, April 25 TBD Detroit at Tampa Bay TBD
*Monday, April 27 TBD Tampa Bay at Detroit TBD
*Wednesday, April 29 TBD Detroit at Tampa Bay TBD
SERIES C – M1 vs. W2 TIME (ET) Pittsburgh-NY Rangers NETWORKS
Thursday, April 16 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 18 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at NY Rangers NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Monday, April 20 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, April 22 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Pittsburgh NBCSN, SN 360, TVA Sports
*Friday, April 24 TBD Pittsburgh at NY Rangers TBD
*Sunday, April 26 TBD NY Rangers at Pittsburgh TBD
*Tuesday, April 28 TBD Pittsburgh at NY Rangers TBD
SERIES D – M2 vs. M3 TIME (ET) NY Islanders- Washington NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 15 7 p.m. NY Islanders at Washington USA, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Friday, April 17 7 p.m. NY Islanders at Washington NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, April 19 Noon Washington at NY Islanders NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 21 7:30 p.m. Washington at NY Islanders USA, SN 360, TVA Sports
*Thursday, April 23 TBD NY Islanders at Washington TBD
*Saturday, April 25 TBD Washington at NY Islanders TBD
*Monday, April 27 TBD NY Islanders at Washington TBD
WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST-ROUND MATCHUPS
SERIES E – C1 vs. W1 TIME (ET) Minnesota-St. Louis NETWORKS
Thursday, April 16 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at St. Louis NBCSN, SN 360, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 18 3 p.m. Minnesota at St. Louis NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Monday, April 20 8 p.m. St. Louis at Minnesota CNBC, SN1, TVA Sports
Wednesday, April 22 9:30 p.m. St. Louis at Minnesota NBCSN, SN 360, TVA Sports
*Friday, April 24 TBD Minnesota at St. Louis TBD
*Sunday, April 26 TBD St. Louis at Minnesota TBD
*Wednesday, April 29 TBD Minnesota at St. Louis TBD
SERIES F – C2 vs. C3 TIME (ET) Chicago-Nashville NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 15 8:30 p.m. Chicago at Nashville NBCSN, SN 360, TVA Sports
Friday, April 17 9:30 p.m. Chicago at Nashville NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, April 19 3 p.m. Nashville at Chicago NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 21 9:30 p.m. Nashville at Chicago NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Thursday, April 23 TBD Chicago at Nashville TBD
*Saturday, April 25 TBD Nashville at Chicago TBD
*Monday, April 27 TBD Chicago at Nashville TBD
SERIES G – P1 vs. W2 TIME (ET) Winnipeg-Anaheim NETWORKS
Thursday, April 16 10:30 p.m. Winnipeg at Anaheim CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 18 10:30 p.m. Winnipeg at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Monday, April 20 9 p.m. Anaheim at Winnipeg Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Wednesday, April 22 9:30 p.m. Anaheim at Winnipeg Sportsnet, TVA Sports, USA
*Friday, April 24 TBD Winnipeg at Anaheim Sportsnet
*Sunday, April 26 TBD Anaheim at Winnipeg Sportsnet
*Tuesday, April 28 TBD Winnipeg at Anaheim Sportsnet
SERIES H – P2 vs. P3 TIME (ET) Calgary-Vancouver NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 15 10 p.m. Calgary at Vancouver CBC, TVA Sports, USA
Friday, April 17 10 p.m. Calgary at Vancouver CBC, TVA Sports, CNBC
Sunday, April 19 10 p.m. Vancouver at Calgary CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Tuesday, April 21 10 p.m. Vancouver at Calgary CBC, TVA Sports, USA
*Thursday, April 23 TBD Calgary at Vancouver CBC
*Saturday, April 25 TBD Vancouver at Calgary CBC
*Monday, April 27 TBD Calgary at Vancouver CBC

* – if necessary TBD – To be determined (JIP) – joined in progress

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