Capitals, Rangers, Ducks, Predators popular picks to advance by NHL Network, NHL.com experts
The only thing holding this back is the clashing styles of the ultra-modern Capitals design with the more old-school Penguins design. The games in Washington, with the heavy use of red versus gold, will look fantastic. Washington Capitals Visual Brand Ranking: As a certain DC resident might say…Sad. Pittsburgh Penguins Visual Brand Ranking: It allows their visual brand squeak into the top third of the league.
Almost anything I said about the Leafs-Bruins matchup in the last round can be said again here. Now we get to the really good stuff.
It works because the Bruins bring a lot of gold into their jerseys, and the gold versus blue looks great. The games in Boston are actually a bit better again Tampa than Toronto, since Tampa uses thicker stripes of blue, adding some more necessary colour to the matchup. Easily the cream of the crop this round. It all leads to a middle-of-the-road ranking. Boston Bruins Visual Brand Ranking: Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings.
Now we know that answer — a convincing yes — but the Sharks looked even more dominant in dispatching the Ducks, who had come on strong down the stretch and appeared stronger than the Kings on paper. San Jose went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final two years ago, but Vegas might be a team of destiny this spring. Meanwhile, the two matchups that I was most confident would come to fruition are set to steal the second-round spotlight with Pittsburgh and Washington clashing at this stage for the third year in a row, while one of the top two teams from the regular season will be bowing out between Nashville and Winnipeg.
And last but not necessarily least, Tampa Bay will be taking on Boston in another intriguing Atlantic battle. We are in for a treat with all four matchups and hockey fans are sure to be the real winners. For the record, I went 5-for-8 in the first round — my other mistake was picking the Leafs over the Bruins — and I only got the number of games right in one series, that being Tampa in five over New Jersey.
Every player is going to be key, with both teams boasting terrific depth and the ability to roll four lines. However, the bigger names probably decide this series.
Subban against Dustin Byfuglien. Filip Forsberg against Patrik Laine. The list goes on and on, not to mention a goaltending duel between Vezina finalists with Pekka Rinne against Connor Hellebuyck.
Yet, you get the sense this could be a high-scoring series with all that firepower. The two best teams are meeting at least one, if not two rounds too early, but at least we get to see these titans in a seven-game showdown. Nashville has experience on its side as a surprising Stanley Cup finalist last year and most would give the Predators the advantage on defence and in goal too.
Winnipeg is the underdog, no doubt, but the Jets have a special group with a lot of elite talent that could really break out here. They were out-attempted by 50 and out-chanced by 40 against the Minnesota Wild but won four of five because Jake Allen stood on his head and posted a near.
He is due to regress and I am really high on this Preds team I picked them to beat the Hawks in the opening round so I think they'll take care of business in relatively short order. Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins Prediction: Capitals in 7 This may be the best series of the playoffs and could definitely go either way.
I'm going with the Capitals, though, because they have a home ice; b the better goaltender; c the better defense core and; d fewer injuries to worry about. I expect the Penguins to give the Caps everything they can handle but, ultimately, I see them getting through. Sens in 7 I think the Rangers have a more talented roster than the Senators but I was impressed by the latter in the opening round.