Key Matchups-

Brent Burns and Shea Weber will be expected to light the lamp for their respective teams. Burns was number one among defensemen scoring 27 goals this season. He can move the puck in the offensive zone and is aggressive on the forecheck. He put 353 shots on net making him second in that aspect to Alex Ovechkin. Weber was fourth for goals and finished the season with 20 goals; his third time doing so. Burns is the superior offensive player while Weber has impressive shot suppression numbers, and has already been chosen to play for Team Canada’s World Cup squad.

San Jose Sharks–

Coach Peter DeBoer prefers to roll four lines, keeping his forwards fresh. In Round 1 the top line dominated scoring seven of its 16 goals. All forwards averaged a minimum of 11 minutes of ice time per game except Tommy Wingels who is second among forwards with 11 shots on goal and averaged 9:49 per game. The Sharks’ Joes Pavelski and Joe Thornton made an impressive showing in the first round. Pavelski scored five goals in five games, with two coming on the power play and one standing as a game winner. Thornton had a goal and two assists, and was one of the most solid players on the ice. Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi, and Patrick Marleau, were an offensive powerhouse trio against the Kings. Joel Ward had four assists and made his presence known alone the walls. Center Chris Tierney and left wing Matt Nieto also made contributions.

Brent Burns has been a force to be reckoned with the past two seasons, and it’s going to be a battle for the Predators’ defense to keep him at bay while trying to hold off Pavelski and Thornton. Burns lead the Sharks with eight points in the first round. Paul Martin was Burns’ partner in Round 1and his adept play allowed for Burns to thrive. Marc-Edouard Vlasic made his contribution averaging 23:12 of ice time per game and leading the Sharks with 18 blocked shots.

The Sharks are a team of playmakers who proved how important puck possession and seizing scoring opportunities is during their matchup with the Kings and the past season. For every 60 minutes played at 5-on-5, the Sharks generated about 13 chances from the slot and allowed less than 10 against per 60 minutes. Against the Kings the Sharks were able to average 13 chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in the first round.

The Sharks goaltending has something to be desired. Martin Jones isn’t the caliber of goalie you hope to see in the playoffs. His .912 save percentage was right in the middle of the pack for goaltenders in the first round. He’ll need to be better against the Predators for the team to win the series, and if he is the Sharks could be back in the Western Conference final for the first time since 2011.


Nashville Predators-

The Predators are a defense dominant team with Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. In Round 1 Weber and Josi combined for two goals and eight points, playing nearly half of each game and played a crucial role in shutting down Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. In Round Two, they’ll be tasked with slowing down Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Brent Burns. Josi averaged 27:16 of ice time and 33.6 shifts per game. His average shift length was 48 seconds. Fourth-line center Paul Gaustad brought a physical presence in the first round. Gaustad has been proven effective in the faceoff circle; he won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs against the Ducks and had a 54.1 winning percentage in the defensive zone. Nashville finished the regular season tied for the most points in the NHL by defensemen.

Nashville’s penalty kill faced the league’s best power play in Round One and only allowed four power play goals against in 25 attempts. That made for the sixth-best penalty kill in Round 1 against the Ducks. Nashville’s penalty kill is going to be utilized against San Jose who drew the fifth-most power plays in the regular season and had the league’s third-ranked power play. Nashville’s power play struggled in the first round, going 1-for-26.

Nashville offensive production is lacking compared to San Jose’s. The Sharks could win with forward depth if the Preds forwards can’t get the puck to the back of the net, but there is hope for the offense with Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and James Neal, but it’ll be crucial that they are better than they were in Round 1.

Pekka Rinne had issues in the first five games. In Game 7 Rinne played a solidly and saved the Predators by making 36 saves, allowing one goal, on a power play. Rinne finished the series with 2.45 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

Prediction: Sharks in 6

Follow us on Twitter @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey

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


Tampa Bay Lightning –

Learning from Round 1: The Lighting had to win Game 6 on the road before outlasting the Detroit Red Wings 2-0 in Game 7. Steven Stamkos had 43 goals in the regular season, but only had three assists against the Red Wings in the first round, but his defensive play was on point. Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Pala picked up the offensive slack during the first round and it will be important that this team sees where it is lacking and continues to find solutions. Johnson scored twice each in Games 2, 4 and 6; his six goals were tied for the most in the opening round with Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues. The Lightning were 2-for-30 and allowed a shorthanded goal on the powerplay. Stamkos had 13 power-play goals during the regular season, so his struggles to score were a major problem in the first round.

Winning Formula: Tampa Bay dominated Montreal going 5-0-0 against the Canadiens during the regular season, outscoring them 21-8; they hope to continue that trend in this post-season matchup. The Bolts have possibly the most forward depth of any team in the league. Tampa Bay’s defense scored five goals during the first round. Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman who each had more than 30 points during the regular season are solid in their end and have a focus on puck possession. Jason Garrison has a big shot from the point, Matt Carle, Coburn, Ondrej Sustr, and Nikita Nesterov all can move the puck and played a big role in limiting the Red Wings to 13 non-empty-net goals in seven games.

Montreal Canadiens –

Learning from Round 1: The Habs got scoring production from every line making their progression to the 2nd round a true team effort. Centers Tomas Plekanec, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn each finished with a goal and two assists, and left wing Max Pacioretty and right wing Dale Weise each had two goals. Flynn saved Game 1 when he had a goal and two assists in a 4-3 victory in Montreal. Forwards Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk each finished with a goal and two points. Lars Eller led the Habs with a 61.6 percent faceoff efficiency (45-of-73) and had a goal and two points. Center David Desharnais had two assists and won 48 of 92 faceoffs (52.2 percent). Devante Smith-Pelly led the Canadiens with 22 hits. Montreal needs to do more to avoid turnovers in the defensive zone. Defenseman Greg Pateryn who had no points in 17 regular-season games has had had two assists in three games in the post-season thus far. The Canadiens scored one goal in 20 man-advantage opportunities against the Senators and this was not new as their powerplay was troubling them all season.

Winning Formula: This team is successful because their 4th line is as important as their 1st. Expect Plekanec and Pacioretty to be in the thick of the action and play every inch of the ice. Pacioretty scored 37 goals in the regular season and  rejoined the Canadiens for Game 2 after missing the previous three games with an upper-body injury sustained April 5. Plekanec averaged 20:27 of ice time in six games. P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov are an intimidating defensive pairing. Subban leads the Canadiens in average ice time per game (25:08) and in scoring with four points (three assists). Markov averaged 25:03 and blocked 15 shots, but he struggled in the series with numerous turnovers. Jeff Petry and Alexei Emelin provide this team with great hits and blocking shots. The penalty-killing unit went 15-of-20 in the first round (75 percent) with defensemen Subban, Emelin, Gilbert and Petry, and forwards Plekanec, Prust and Eller play significant roles.

Goalie Matchup: Carey Price is up for the Vezina Trophy as well as the Hart Trophy, and his performance in the 1st Round spoke volumes on why that is the case. Price had a 1.94 GAA and .939 save percentage against the Senators. He capped the series with 43 saves in a 2-0 victory in Game 6 at Ottawa. Price bounced back from a 5-1 loss in Game 5 and became the first goaltender to shut out the Senators this season. Price allowed 12 goals in the series; he had 30 saves in the second and third periods of Game 6. Price led the NHL or shared the lead in three of the major categories during the regular season: wins (44), goals-against average (1.96), and save percentage (.933). Lightning goalie Bishop’s absence was the primary reason the team was swept in last year’s post-season. Bishop rebounded with a solid regular season (40-13-5, 2.32 goals-against average, .916 save percentage), and after some ups and downs against Detroit he made the saves that had to be made in the final two games. That included 31 in Game 7, his first Stanley Cup Playoff shutout. He finished the series with a 1.87 GAA and a .922 save percentage. Rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 13 starts after succeeding Evgeni Nabokov as Bishop’s backup. He had a 2.36 GAA and a .918 save percentage. If he finds himself in the crease he would give the Lightning a better chance of winning than they had last year without Bishop in net.

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Read analysis from the Lightning and the Canadiens first round matchups.


Minnesota Wild –

Learning from Round 1: The top line of Parise, Granlund, and Pominville combined for 17 points against St. Louis, and they will need to keep that momentum going into the 2nd Round with Chicago. The Wild finished 4-of-12 with the man-advantage and lead the League with 33.3 percent power-play efficiency in six games; this is a phenomenal change after a regular season of weakness in that area.

Winning Formula: The Wild has had consistency on all lines, and has had some stellar individual efforts. Eight players scored at least one goal in their first matchup; Zach Parise led the Wild with seven points (three goals), and Jason Pominville, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and captain Mikko Koivu each had at least three points. The Wild has a good offensive force, and Suter, Brodin, Spurgeon and Scandella on defense as well as Dubnyk in the crease can keep this team in the fight. Minnesota’s power play ranked in the bottom five during the regular season, but was exceptional against the Blues. The penalty-killing unit finished 1st in the NHL during the regular season and went 9-of-11 (81.8 percent) in the 1st Round. Playing significant roles on the PK were defensemen Suter, Brodin, Spurgeon, and Scandella, and forwards Koivu, Brodziak and Cooke.


Chicago Blackhawks –

Learning from Round 1: In the first round Chicago pulled Crawford in Game 1, and Darling continued to play until Crawford relieved him in Game 6 which contributed to the team moving on to the 2nd Round. It’s important that this team uses all its resources and that includes switching goaltending up when the current man in the crease isn’t being effective. They learned that their fourth line was more effective at winning puck battles when center Marcus Kruger was flanked by Andrew Desjardins at left wing and Andrew Shaw on the right. Timonen and Rozsival have moments when they contribute on defense, but their lapses sometimes lead to scoring chances for the opposing team.  Rozsival finished with a minus-2 rating and gave the puck away too often. The Hawks had the one of the best PK units in the league going into the playoffs, but not in the 1st Round; they allowed six goals in 22 times shorthanded against Nashville for a 72.7 percent success rate tied for 13th among the 16 playoff teams. With the backsliding of their effectiveness on their penalty kill they will need to be better on the power play for their special teams to be effective, but their power play only scored three goals in 19 chances (15.8 percent) in the 1st round.

Winning Formula: Producing offense is a major component for the Blackhawks; Jonathan Toews is tied for the scoring lead in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with eight points (three goals, five assists), and Kane has seven points (two goals, five assists). Patrick Sharp had a strong opening series with three goals and two assists, and he’s tied with right wing Marian Hossa for the Chicago lead in shots on goal (24). Hossa hasn’t scored, but has five assists. This team doesn’t have as much depth on the blueline as they did when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010 or 2013, but Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya still play fast and smart. Keith made goals that decided Game 1 in double overtime, and Game 6 late in the third period. Seabrook had a goal that ended Game 4 one minute into triple overtime for a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. They need to strengthen their PK back to how it was in the regular season and keep calm dealing with the Wild’s forecheck.

Goalie Matchup: Crawford will be starting Game 1. In the first round Crawford began the postseason as the starter, allowed nine goals in his first four periods, and was replaced by Darling. In Game 5 Darling allowed four goals in a 5-2 loss and let in three more in the first period of Game 6 before getting pulled in favor of Crawford who earned the win. Crawford didn’t allow a goal on 13 shots, just as Darling didn’t allow a goal on 42 shots in relief to win Game 1 in double overtime. Prior to the Round 1 series, Crawford had never been pulled from a playoff start by Quenneville and started 57 straight postseason games for the Blackhawks prior to Darling’s start in Game 3. Darling has the better 2.21 goals-against average and .936 save percentage while Crawford in 4.19 goals-against average and has a .850 save percentage. Playing in the crease for Minnesota, Dubnyk, finished the opening round with a 2.32 goals-against average and .913 save percentage. After allowing six goals on 17 shots and being replaced by Kuemper late in the second period of a 6-1 loss in Game 4, Dubnyk rebounded with 36 saves in a 4-1 victory in Game 5 in St. Louis. The team seems to be feeding off of his confidence and ability to thrive under pressure. Dubnyk made saves on 66 of the final 68 shots he faced in Games 5 and 6 after being pulled in the Game 4 loss. In the Game 6 clincher, Dubnyk made 14 saves in the second period and 12 in the third to close the series. In the regular season Dubnyk was 27-9-2 with a 1.78 GAA, .936 save percentage and five shutouts in 38 straight starts. Of the losses, seven were by one goal and two were in a shootout.

Follow @TristinHuntamer Twitter.

Analysis from the first round for Chicago and Minnesota‘s matchups.


SERIES I – A1 vs. A2 TIME (ET)    Tampa Bay vs. Montreal NETWORKS
Friday, May 1 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Sunday, May 3 6 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Wednesday, May 6 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay USA, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 7 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 9 TBD Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, TVA Sports
*Tuesday, May 12 TBD Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, TVA Sports
*Thursday, May 14 TBD Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, TVA Sports
SERIES J – M1 vs. M2 TIME (ET)  Washington vs. NY Rangers  NETWORKS
Thursday, April 30 7:30 p.m. Washington at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, May 2 12:30 p.m. Washington at NY Rangers NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Monday, May 4 7:30 p.m. NY Rangers at Washington NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, May 6 7:30 p.m. NY Rangers at Washington NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Friday, May 8 7 p.m. Washington at NY Rangers NBCSN, TVA Sports
*Sunday, May 10 TBD NY Rangers at Washington TVA Sports
*Wednesday, May 13 TBD Washington at NY Rangers TVA Sports
SERIES E – C3 vs. W1 TIME (ET)   Minnesota vs. Chicago  NETWORKS
Friday, May 1 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Chicago NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, May 3 8:30 p.m. Minnesota at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, SN360, TVA Sports
Tuesday, May 5 8 p.m. Chicago at Minnesota NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 7 9:30 p.m. Chicago at Minnesota NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 9 TBD Minnesota at Chicago TVA Sports
*Monday, May 11 TBD Chicago at Minnesota TVA Sports
*Wednesday, May 13 TBD Minnesota at Chicago TVA Sports
SERIES G – P1 vs. P3 TIME (ET)   Calgary vs. Anaheim NETWORKS
Thursday, April 30 10 p.m. Calgary at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, May 3 10 p.m. Calgary at Anaheim CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Tuesday, May 5 9:30 p.m. Anaheim at Calgary Sportsnet, TVA Sports, USA
Friday, May 8 9:30 p.m. Anaheim at Calgary Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NBCSN
*Sunday, May 10 TBD Calgary at Anaheim Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Tuesday, May 12 TBD Anaheim at Calgary Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Thursday, May 14 TBD Calgary at Anaheim Sportsnet, TVA Sports

* – if necessary TBD – To be determined