In one of the most unpredictable and wildly entertaining first rounds in recent playoff history, the stage is set for a second round like nothing we’ve seen before.
The reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals were bundled out in seven games by the Carolina Hurricanes, the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lighting are gone, the Western Conference champion Calgary Flames have been eliminated and last season’s Stanley Cup finalists the Vegas Golden Knights are out after what may go down as the most memorable Game 7 in playoff history.
No Nashville Predators, no Winnipeg Jets and no remaining Canadian teams are left. It’s a whole new ball game!
Colorado Avalanche (WC2) vs San Jose Sharks (P2)
Friday, April 26, 10 p.m.: Avalanche @ Sharks | NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports
Sunday, April 28, 7:30 p.m.: Avalanche @ Sharks | NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 30, 10 p.m.: Sharks @ Avalanche | NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 2, 10 p.m.: Sharks @ Avalanche | NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 4, TBD: Avalanche @ Sharks | TBD
*Monday, May 6, TBD: Sharks @ Avalanche | TBD
*Wednesday, May 8, TBD: Avalanche @ Sharks | TBD
Sharks: Martin Jones, Brent Burns, Timo Meier, Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane
Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Philipp Grubauer and Tyson Barrie
Head to Head
On paper, the Sharks hold the monopoly over the Avalanche, taking wins in all three encounters with Colorado during the regular season.
The Avalanche extinguished the Flames and the Sharks took down last year’s Stanley Cup finalists, the Vegas Golden Knights. Now we are set for a tantalizing matchup between the Western Conference rivals.
After several sub-standard seasons, the Avalanche romped home in their first opening round win since 2008, taking the series over Calgary in 5 games. Mikko Rantanen top scored for Colorado with nine points and Nathan MacKinnon recorded eight points in five games for the Avalanche. Much in the same fashion as the Blue Jackets, the Avalanche came into the first round as underdogs and surprised everyone by eliminating the Pacific Division and Western Conference Champions. They have a young, dynamic roster who know how to score. Gun forward Nathan Mackinnon leads the charge and after his 99 point season and tally in the playoffs so far, he will look to continue his form into the second round.
On the other side are the playoff experienced Sharks. They last appeared in the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 in which they lost the series 4-2 to Pittsburgh and have made the Playoffs for the last four seasons running. Their first round win over the Golden Knights avenged their 2018 second round loss to Vegas. Off season acquisition Erik Karlsson leads the Sharks playoff tally so far with nine points in seven games with Logan Couture and Game 6 hero Tomas Hertl each sitting on eight points. The Sharks know how to grind out a game. They proved this with a big win in two overtimes in Game 6 and with a stunning come from behind win in Game 7 of the first round, erasing a 3-0 deficit to force overtime. They have quick puck movement and big game goal scorers.
Colorado had a great run in round 0ne, but I expect the Sharks to edge the Avalanche here. Sharks in 6.
Dallas Stars (WC2) vs St Louis Blues (C3)
Thursday, April 25, 9:30 p.m.: Stars @ Blues | NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 27, 3 p.m.: Stars @ Blues | NBC, SN, TVA Sports
Monday, April 29, 8 p.m.: Blues @ Stars | NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports
Wednesday, May 1, 9:30 p.m.: Blues @ Stars | NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports
*Friday, May 3, 9:30 p.m.: Stars @ Blues | NBCSN, TVA Sports
*Sunday, May 5, TBD: Blues @ Stars | TBD
*Tuesday, May 7, TBD: Stars @ Blues | TBD
Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko, Jordan Binnington, Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo and Brayden Schenn
Stars: Ben Bishop, Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, John Klingberg and Jamie Benn
Head To Head
Dallas has the edge if regular season match ups are anything to go on, taking 3 out of 4 encounters with the Blues during the 2018-19 regular season. The Blues and Stars are also no stranger to second round playoff action having met in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Blues took that series in seven games.
In a match up no-one saw coming and with the Blues and Stars upsetting their Western Conference rivals in the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators respectively, this is set to be a great series. Goaltending will be a big factor in this series with the Blues’ Jordan Binnington and the Stars’ Ben Bishop (who many believe will be the 2018-19 Vezina winner) providing strong goaltending at both ends of the ice. Binnington enjoyed a strong series against Winnipeg, saving 157 of 173 shots in the first round and Bishop coming up big with 206 saves off 218 shots for a .945 SV%.
Dallas’ ability to remain strong on the penalty kill will again play a large factor in this series but St Louis possesses a strong power play unit which will make things tricky for the Stars. Jaden Schwartz was a game winner for the Blues in Round 1 and Alexander Radulov was a leader for the Stars. Expect those two to feature once again in this match up.
These teams are familiar foes which will make things really interesting when it comes to momentum. Both teams possess passionate fan bases who will no doubt bring the noise in their home arenas.
In a tough match up to predict with both teams looking strong on a good night, I am expecting this one to go all the way. I feel the Blues, with their sky high confidence will get over the line. Blues in 7.
Written by Chris McRae / @ChrisMcRae04
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture (39) gets a hug from a teammate for his pull ahead score during the 3rd period in Game 7, Round 1 between the Vegas Golden Knights and the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. (Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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