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.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL MATCHUP
SERIES M – M1 vs. A2 TIME (ET) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers NETWORKS
Saturday, May 16 1 p.m. Tampa Bay at NY Rangers NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Monday, May 18 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, May 20 8 p.m. NY Rangers at Tampa Bay NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Friday, May 22 8 p.m. NY Rangers at Tampa Bay NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Sunday, May 24 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Tuesday, May 26 8 p.m. NY Rangers at Tampa Bay NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Friday, May 29 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL MATCHUP
SERIES N – P1 vs. C3 TIME (ET) Chicago Blackhawks vs. Anaheim Ducks NETWORKS
Sunday, May 17 3 p.m. Chicago at Anaheim NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Tuesday, May 19 9 p.m. Chicago at Anaheim NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 21 8 p.m. Anaheim at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, May 23 8 p.m. Anaheim at Chicago NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
*Monday, May 25 9 p.m. Chicago at Anaheim NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Wednesday, May 27 8 p.m. Anaheim at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 30 8 p.m. Chicago at Anaheim NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

* – if necessary TBD – To be determined

 

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New York Rangers-

Winning Formula: Lundqvist will be a key component in this series and will have to play as well as he did against the Penguins as there is bound to be some scrambling in front of the net. He’ll need to remain composed during those moments. This is a fast team and they are especially great on the backend on breakouts. They need to use that speed as best they can to avoid an overly physical game, and keep the team as healthy as possible. Games can be won and lost on how a team manages at power play and the Rangers will need to focus on shooting first when they have the advantage.

Learning from Round 1: A factor in their game 2 loss against the Penguins was their power play. They need to keep shooting and not let their advantage go to waste. New York scored three power-play goals, including the game-winner in Game 1 and the goal that put them up 1-0 in Game 5. The Rangers were 3-for-20 on the power play (15 percent) and at times struggled to get shots (33 total), but they were better when they went with a unit that featured four forwards and one defenseman. The Rangers were shorthanded 13 times, fewer than three times per game. They allowed two power-play goals in Game 2, each to Pittsburgh’s second power-play unit. New York committed 15 minor penalties in the five games, and in the second round they will need to lessen that number and stay out of the penalty box as much as possible.

Washington Capitals –

Winning Formula: Holtby has proven that he isn’t just a regular season goaltender and can hold his own in the playoffs. If the Caps find the lead Holtby can hold it. Ovechkin and Backstrom ranked in the top 10 in scoring in the regular season; Backstrom has six points in the playoffs and Ovechkin has five, so it is important that the two play the way they did during the regular season. Washington will need to take advantage of their power play and not let the Rangers take advantage of them when they are on the penalty kill.

Learning from Round 1: The Capitals top power play during the regular season did not transfer over to the first round of the playoffs against the Islanders. Washington scored on two of 13 chances (15.4 percent), tied for 11th among playoff teams. Ovechkin led the League with 25 power-play goals but didn’t score one in the series. Backstrom and Carlson each had a power-play goal. They will need to generate more offense on the power play in the 2nd round. Special teams didn’t completely fizzle in the second round as the Caps had a superb PK killing all 14 shorthanded chances in the first round. In the first round Washington showed discipline only averaging two minor penalties per game.

Goalie Matchup- Lundqvist shook off speculation that the vascular injury he sustained that caused a 23 game absence during the end of the regular season would hold him back in the first round. He played deep in the crease and tracked the puck well; he also challenged on the forcheck. Lundqvist allowed eight goals on 132 shots for a .939 save percentage and 1.53 goals-against average in five games against Pittsburgh. He gave up four goals on 110 shots (.964 save percentage) in New York’s four wins, all by a 2-1 score. In Game 5, when he made 37 saves on 38 shots for the series-clinching win. Since the 2011 playoffs, Lundqvist is 32-29 with a .931 save percentage, 1.99 goals-against average and six shutouts in 62 appearances. Holtby made a League-high 73 appearances during the regular season and ranked in the top five in nearly all goaltending categories. He missed Game 2 against the Islanders with an illness, but came back and only allowed a total of seven goals in the final five games of the series. His .943 save percentage ranks second among playoff goalies, and his 1.63 goals-against average is third. Holtby made 166 saves on 176 Islanders shots, and although he faced 11 shots in Game 7, he faced more than 35 three times in the series. Holtby has a 6-8 playoff record against the Rangers, having allowed 31 goals (.924 save percentage). He allowed four-plus goals in three of the final five games of a 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals loss in seven games to them.

Follow @TristinHuntamer on Twitter

Read our pre-series analysis from Round 1 for the Rangers and the Capitals.

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Head-to-Head Season Stats
Stats
Rangers
Penguins
Record 3-0-1 1-2-1
Goals 16 7
Shot Attempts 148 186

 

Season Stats
 
Rangers
Penguins
Rank
Stats
Rank
Stats
Shot Attempts For/60 12 54.5 8 55.4
Shot Attempts Against/60 19 53.6 5 48.6
Shot Attempt % 18 50.6 7 53.3
Goals For/60 3 2.68 15 2.26
Goals Against/60 11 2.05 8 2.03
Goal % 3 56.7 10 52.7
Shooting % 3 8.8 18 7.5
Save % 5 93.1 13 92.5
Powerplay 21 16.8 10 19.3
Penalty Kill 6 84.3 3 84.8

Key Matchup-

Sidney Crosby vs. Rick Nash: Both players received heavy criticism for their play in last year’s playoffs. Nash had one of his best regular seasons while Crosby had one of his worst, but don’t let that fool you as they are still very evenly matched. Both had a major impact on their respective teams to get them to the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Penguins-

Winning Formula: The Penguins are top-10 in goals against, power play, penalty kill and 5-on-5 scoring. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin remain two of the NHL’s elite players, and Crosby has gotten better in the second half of the season. Kris Letang has had a phenomenal comeback season. Marc-Andre Fleury was tied for the NHL lead in shutouts, has been solid in the goal, and performed well in last year’s post season where it was offense that held the team back and not goaltending. First-year coach Mike Johnston pushes for a fast paced style, stronger defensive presence, and a focus on possession. Pittsburgh is a team that has everything they need to win, but execution of all those factors is key to them progressing.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  Despite having two of the best players in the world and so much else going for them, Pittsburgh hasn’t reached the final since that win in ’09 and has fallen or struggled against teams inferior on paper. This team has had issues with losing their composure and imploding, but don’t just put the blame on Fleury as last year he was their saving grace keeping the Pens in the playoffs as long as he could. They will need to be mentally tougher to utilize all their skills and talents.

NY Rangers-

Winning Formula: The Rangers have one of the best blueline corps in the NHL. Keith Yandle, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi all play solid games. Cam Talbot was excellent in Henrik Lundqvist’s absence, but The King remains the Rangers’ starter. Lundqvist relies on his reflexes and instincts playing deep in the net, but he’s as good as anyone reading the rush and reading plays. They have a strong penalty kill. Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Martin St-Louis, Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin are all players to watch.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  With all their talent and skill this team is only middle of the pack when it comes to possession keeping that amazing defense very busy. When Nash wasn’t producing during last year’s post season the fans were quick to turn on him and that can wreak havoc on a player’s confidence. Lundqvist is recovering from vascular injury after a puck struck his throat Jan. 31. He missed almost two months of games in the second half of the season.

Follow me @TristinHuntamer