The 2nd Round of the 2021 NHL Playoffs are officially underway as one team remains to be decided from the opening round matchup of the Montreal Canadiens visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tonight, watch the 1st place Maple Leafs take on the rolling Canadiens live on CNBC at 7 p.m. ET. Now, we will look at each 2nd round matchup and provide a brief analysis of what we saw in the first games and what you can anticipate going forward.
2nd Round NHL Playoff – Islanders at Bruins
The New York Islanders and Boston Bruins met for the first time in a best-of-7 series located at TD Garden, the home to the Bruins and Celtics for 25+ years. In the first round, the Bruins coasted to a 4-1 series victory over a very hard team to beat in the Washington Capitals. Game 1 tells the audience that you may want to expect more of the same as the outcome in this series.
Debatably, the top line in the NHL belongs to the Bruins as they are stacked with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. It was them that made the Islanders suffer in their defensive zone as they owned the puck consistently throughout the entire game. Not only did they make them suffer, but they made them pay for it.
Pastrnak knotted the game at 1 with just 24 seconds remaining in the 1st period on the power play with assists from Krejci and Bergeron. It was Pastrnak for the 2nd time in the 2nd period bringing the Bruins in front before giving the lead-up and allowing the Islanders to tie the game about a minute later.
The 3rd period was all Bruins as they put up 3 goals unanswered, leading to an eventual 5-2 dominant victory. Pastrnak earned his hat-trick as Krejci collected a hat-trick in assists, and Bergeron had 2 assists. You can watch the Islanders battle the Bruins in game 2 on NBCSN, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Bruins open as (-210 ML) favorites over the Islanders in game 2, making it a game most people will look at over/under odds to get a more favorable line. The O/U line is set at 5 creating a landslide of bets in support of the over. Personally, I see this game going under 5 and hitting with confidence.
Taking a look at the overall series, I anticipate the Bruins come out on top. Of course, that’s with consideration of the first game’s result, but that’s also accounting for the pure experience the Bruins have been able to display throughout the years. Although they lost Chara, the Bruins have the privilege of having players like Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci, and Rask, who has been in this position numerous times.
2nd Round NHL Playoff – Lightning at Hurricanes
The recently hot Carolina Hurricanes host the defending Stanley Cup champions, Tampa Bay Lightning, for what should involve a very high level of hockey being played. The defending champs had little trouble with state neighbor Florida Panthers in their opening round as they defeated their opponents in six games. Similar to the Lightning, the Hurricanes outlasted their opponents, Nashville Predators, in six games, with four of them needing at least an extra period to help determine the outcome.
In game 1, it was the devil in town, the Lightning coming away with the 2-1 win behind Barclay Goodrow’s goal with a little under eight minutes left in the game alongside star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 37 saves and .974 save percentage.
It always seems the one thing that the Lightning have been consistently able to rely on throughout the regular season and postseason thus far is their goaltending. In his 7 games played throughout the 2021 NHL Playoffs, Vasilevskiy holds a .936 save percentage along with 5 wins.
The early line that has been set favorites the Hurricanes (-110 ML) for game 2, and while they may win this battle, I don’t anticipate for the Hurricanes to outlast the defending champs in a war. The Lightning being such a great home team, should collect both wins in their return to Tampa and have their team one step closer in furthering themselves onto the next round.
Watch the Lightning face off against the Hurricanes on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and duel it out to see if the Lightning will head back to Tampa with a commanding 2-0 lead or if the Hurricanes will be able to put some pucks behind Vasilevskiy and even the series at 1 game a piece.
2nd Round NHL Playoff – Golden Knights at Avalanche
The winner of the Presidents‘ Trophy, Colorado Avalanche, who are held responsible for having the best regular-season record, now face the challenge of hosting division rivals and the most recently introduced team to the league with the Vegas Golden Knights. It should be noted that the Avalanche and Knights ended the season with the same exact # of points (82) and tied their regular-season series with each team winning 4 games.
While game 1 of the series came as a bit of a shocker with the Avalanche marching all over the Golden Knights in what seemed like a very easy 7-1 victory for the Presidents Trophy winners, I don’t anticipate for the remainder of the series to be in any type of way similar to their last series in which they stunned the St. Louis Blues with a 4-0 sweep.
If you watched the game, you saw it in their legs as the Golden Knights were second to each puck and getting out hustled in the corners. Sometimes, that’s to be expected coming off a game 7 tough victory against the hardworking, relentless Minnesota Wild. Look for them to come back in game 2 and make a statement. They beat this team 4 times in the regular season, proving that they are certainly capable of dominating them now.
I think the Golden Knights will continue to shock those NHL fans around the world and work their way to a comeback in the series.
2nd Round NHL Playoff – Jets Wait Patiently
The Winnipeg Jets served the Edmonton Oilers a sweep in the opening round of this season’s playoffs. That series came to an end a week ago from today on Monday, May 24, as the Jets won 4-3 in triple overtime. The Jets wait patiently as their opponent is yet to be determined.
The Canadiens visit Toronto tonight to face the Maple Leafs in what should be a really fun, high-scoring game 7 with offensive power on both sides of the ice.
One thing is for certain when the 2nd round starts for the Jets in that they simply cannot make any excuses of being tired as they have had more than a week off to recover from their opening series with the Oilers.
Stay with Knup Sports for more NHL previews and predictions!