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Sport NHL playoff bracket predictions, picks, odds & series breakdowns for 2021 Stanley Cup second round

02:21  30 may  2021
02:21  30 may  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

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The Stanley Cup First Round will have eight best-of-7 series , all played within the four divisions -- the West, MassMutual East, Discover Central and Scotia North. The four teams that advance from their divisions will play in the Stanley Cup Semifinals, and will be seeded 1-4, based on regular-season points and The two winners from the semifinals will play in the Stanley Cup Final. Eight of the nine staff members who predicted the Avalanche to win the Stanley Cup believe Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon will win the Conn Smythe Trophy voted as the most valuable player of the playoffs .

Fans worldwide can share their predictions for the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and face off against friends, family Olive®, the Official Auto Mechanical Breakdown Coverage of the 2021 Stanley Cup ® Playoffs , will serve as Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Kucherov uncertain for Lightning in Game 5. The Stanley Cup First Round will consist of eight best-of-7 series , all played within the four divisions

It's late May. The weather is getting nicer and nicer but all anyone wants to be is inside a cold rink. And who can really blame them? It's the best time of the year — Stanley Cup playoff time — and things are getting quite interesting.

Seven teams have punched their ticket to the second round with not only a division crown on the line but also the aim of taking one step closer to finding out who will win the sports world's greatest trophy. The remaining teams are a who's who of NHL royalty. The Avalanche, Golden Knights, Hurricanes, Lightning and Bruins were all in the top 10 in 2021 with the Islanders just on the outside looking in.

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On three of the past four days, a West Division team has clinched its spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs . And they are the only three teams in the NHL that have already secured postseason berths this year. That means there's only one spot still available out of the West, which is held by the Arizona Coyotes. As for the other three divisions, all four spots are still up for grabs, although some teams are getting close to clinching berths. Here's a look at the playoff picture and the latest Stanley Cup odds , followed by picks for the three teams that are most likely to be championship contenders this postseason.

The second round of the NHL playoffs begins Saturday with matchups that promise to be among the best we see all postseason. After knocking off the top two seeds in the East, the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders get together to kick off the second round in a series where home ice could play a big factor. Jeane Coakley, Sal Licata and Marc Malusis discuss whether or not the Islanders can get past the favored Bruins in their second round Stanley Cup Playoff series that begins Saturday in Boston. Sal feels young Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin will be the difference in the series , while

Speaking of the Bruins, the 2019 Stanley Cup finalists are always in the mix, and let's not forget the reigning champs from Tampa Bay are looking poised for a long run. Both of those clubs will face stiff tests against two teams you can never count out: the Islanders and Hurricanes, respectively.

The first round was just good, old playoff hockey with lots of action, including crazy last-second goals and big-time saves, and the second round's slate of best-of-seven series are sure to turn thingst up another notch.

What will happen in the second round and beyond is anyone's guess. Will Vegas finally get its Cup? Are the Lightning the NHL's next great dynasty? Or will franchises that have been waiting decades finally lift the Stanley Cup again? The answer is, nobody knows ... and that's what makes the playoffs oh, so special.

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The official 2021 NHL playoff matchup page of the Carolina Hurricanes vs the Tampa Bay Lightning including news, stats, and video. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. © NHL 2021 . All Rights Reserved.

The complete 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule will be announced when The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs features eight teams in four division-based best-of-7 Here are the series -by- series schedules for the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs . Stanley Cup Playoffs second - round predictions . NHL .com staff members make their picks for

MORE: Full TV schedule for Round 2

NHL playoffs bracket 2021

nhl-round-2-052821-sn-illustration © Provided by Sporting News nhl-round-2-052821-sn-illustration

NHL playoff predictions: East Division

(3) Boston Bruins vs. (4) New York Islanders

The backstory

If this was a normal season, there's a good chance this would have been the Eastern Conference final matchup. Instead, the Bruins and Islanders are facing off in the second round in the East Division — and the series sure to be a doozy.

The Islanders are sending the Nassau Coliseum off in style as the team not only beat the division champion Penguins in six games but also did it by clinching at home for the first time since 1993. By the way, the team they sent packing 28 years ago also hailed from the Steel City. The Boys from Beantown, meanwhile, dispatched the Capitals in five games by outscoring the "Great 8," Alex Ovechkin, and crew 16-10.

This series pairs two evenly matched clubs — as Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy said: "We're playing ourselves a little bit" — who are playing quality hockey at the perfect time. Both are sporting similar GF/GP (3.20 for the Bruins and 3.50 for the Islanders) and GA/GP (2.00 for Boston and 2.67 for New York) in the playoffs. It's pretty much how they lined up in their regular-season series, which the Islanders won 5-2-1 but only outscored the Bruins 20-18 and managed just three goals in the last three games.

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See odds and picks for all 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first round series . 13, 2021 , in Toronto, Canada. (AP Photo/Peter Power). Odds are posted for all eight Stanley Cup first- round playoff series . The Colorado Avalanche (-335) are the biggest favorites to advance through their series against the St. Louis Blues. As far as underdogs, the New York Islanders (+121) have the shortest odds in their set facing the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Regular-season series:

DATE ROAD HOME RESULT
Jan. 18 Bruins Islanders NYI, 1-0
Feb. 13 Bruins Islanders NYI, 4-2
Feb. 25 Bruins Islanders NYI, 7-2
March 9 Bruins Islanders NYI, 2-1 (SO)
March 25 Islanders Bruins NYI, 4-3 (OT)
April 15 Islanders Bruins BOS, 4-1
April 16 Islanders Bruins BOS, 3-0
May 10 Islanders Bruins BOS, 3-2 (OT)

X-factor: Taylor Hall

There are a number of players, on each side, who will play huge roles, but Hall is the one who could be the key. After being acquired by Boston at the deadline, the forward notched four goals in three games against the Islanders — which were also the Bruins' only three wins of the season series. He also has a history of playing well against the Long Island team with 14 goals (tied for his second-most against a team) and 24 points in 27 career games.

The big number: 26.3

With the squads evenly matched at 5v5, this series could come down to special teams, and the Bruins' power play was clicking on all cylinders against the Capitals. In five games, Boston scored five goals in 19 opportunities, which translates to 26.3 percent efficiency with the man advantage The Islanders' penalty kill struggled against the Penguins' power play, allowing three goals in 12 opportunities for 75 percent efficacy.

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SN's prediction: Bruins in 6

East Division second-round schedule

Date Matchup Time (ET) (TV channel)
Sat., May 29 at Boston 8 p.m. (NBC, SN360, TVA Sports)
Mon., May 31 at Boston 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports)
TBD at New York TBD
TBD at New York TBD
*TBD at Boston TBD
*TBD at New York TBD
*TBD at Boston TBD

* If necessary

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East Division second-round series odds

Boston Bruins -225 New York Islanders +178

(Odds courtesy of FanDuel)

First-round predictions

(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) New York Islanders

  • SN's pick: Islanders in 6
  • Series result: Islanders in 6

(2) Washington Capitals vs. (3) Boston Bruins

  • SN's pick: Bruins in 5
  • Series result: Bruins in 5

NHL playoff predictions: Central Division

(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning

The backstory

Both teams closed out their first-round series in six games against formidable foes.

The defending champions dispatched the Panthers in the first Sunshine State Showdown in the postseason, backed by the return of Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Kucherov missed the entire regular season following hip surgery but came back with a flourish as he potted a league-best 11 points (three goals, eight assists). Stamkos missed the last 16 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury and then returned to chip in eight points (three goals, five assists).

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Jon Cooper's squad is one of the strongest teams on the back end, and it's backstopped by 2021 Vezina Trophy contender Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Russian netminder earned 31 of the team's 36 wins in the regular season and saw his save percentage tick up from .925 to .929 in the postseason.

Carolina will give the Lightning all they can handle in this series, led by fiery bench boss Rod Brind'Amour. Not only does he have young studs Sebastian Aho (five goals in six games), Martin Necas (five points) and Andrei Svechnikov (66.84 Corsi For percentage at 5v5, per Natural Stat Trick) at his disposal, but grizzled vets like Jordan Staal (four goals) are getting things done too.

And those are just the guys up front. On the blue line, Dougie Hamilton has become "Playoff Dougie Hamilton"; he has chipped in four points and elevated everyone else's game and puck possession. That's a huge deal considering Jaccob Slavin only suited up in three games because of injury but put the puck on net for Aho's overtime-winner deflection in Game 6.

X-factor: Alex Nedeljkovic

Speaking of Carolina's back end, one of the best stories this season has been Nedeljkovic. The Parma, Ohio, native has stabilized the Hurricanes' net with a .922 save percentage and a shutout in the postseason. That number represents a slight dip from his regular-season .932, but that's expected when the intensity is turned up. While both save percentages are quite sparkly, they pale in comparison to his .962 save percentage against the Lightning in the regular season.

The big number: 14.27

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While the Lightning surely have firepower, Carolina led the 16 teams in the first round in Expected Goals For (xGF) at 5v5 (14.27), per Natural Stat Trick. If you're thinking that's a fluke because they played the Predators in the first round, that would be a no. They were second-best this season with a 117.09 at 5v5. By comparison, Tampa Bay was at 98.57 in the regular season and 9.76 in its first-round meeting with the Panthers.

SN's prediction: Hurricanes in 6

Central Division second-round schedule

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Sun., May 30 at Carolina 5 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports)
TBD at Carolina TBD
TBD at Tampa Bay TBD
TBD at Tampa Bay TBD
*TBD at Carolina TBD
*TBD at Tampa Bay TBD
*TBD at Carolina TBD

Central Division second-round series odds

Tampa Bay Lightning -134 Carolina Hurricanes +110

(Odds courtesty of FanDuel)

First-round predictions

(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (4) Nashville Predators

  • SN's pick: Hurricanes in 5
  • Series result: Hurricanes in 6

(2) Florida Panthers vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning

  • SN's pick: Lightning in 6
  • Series result: Lightning in 6

NHL playoff predictions: West Division

(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (2) Vegas Golden Knights

The backstory

Buckle up. Inject this series into everyone's veins. Every single exciting analogy you can think of is this series, because it's going to be an absolute beauty. These two teams finished 1-2 in the NHL with the Avalanche winning their first Presidents' Trophy since 2001 — which was also the last time they won the Stanley Cup.

The Avs have been off for a bit after sweeping the Blues in absolutely dominating fashion. Normally, it would be easy enough to say they outscored St. Louis 20-7, but when you see that they scored 5.00 goals per game and only gave up 1.75, well, those are just mighty impressive numbers. They also scored on 50 percent of their power-play opportunities, so yep, they're a juggernaut.

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Nathan MacKinnon continues to prove he belongs in the conversation of best players in today's game; he scored nine points (six goals) in the sweep. Captain Gabriel Landeskog added eight points and the third linemate, Mikko Rantanen, had seven points. It'll be interesting to see how secondary scoring goes without the suspended Nazem Kadri, but when you have blue-liners like Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Devon Toews and Ryan Graves adding tallies while also shutting down the opposition, that helps to even things out.

Don't just write Colorado's ticket to the semis, however. Vegas is just as impressive and faced a more determined foe in the Wild in the first round. The upstart Minnesota squad pushed the Golden Knights to a Game 7 but Vegas posted a 6-2 win backed by the return of game-winning goalscorer Max Pacioretty. The forward, by the way, led Nevada's team with eight points (six goals, two assists) against the Avalanche in the regular-season series.

He'll add yet another layer of offensive punch alongside perennial Selke Trophy contender Mark Stone, Alex Tuch, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Game 7 hat-trick scorer Mattias Janmark. While they have an impressive front 12, the Golden Knights also have the likes of Shea Theodore, Alex Pietrangelo and Zach Whitecloud on the blue line.

Then there's the dynamic duo between the pipes. Vezina Trophy contender Marc-Andre Fleury carried the load and started every game against the Wild, boasting a .931 save percentage (.001 lower than his 2021 regular-season save percentage against Colorado in seven starts). His 1.71 goals-against average is just a few ticks better than Avalanche backstop Philipp Grubauer's. But here's the thing: If Fleury should begin to struggle, bench boss Pete DeBoer has Robin Lehner to turn to, and, well, that's not a bad thing.

X-factor: Marc-Andre Fleury

There's really only one player who can control this series and he goes by the nickname "Flower" (but, you know, a tough flower, like a snapdragon). If Fleury does Fleury things — like twice shutting out the Avalanche this season — he can turn this series that's expected to be a barnburner on its head.

The big number: 58.98 percent

The Avalanche were not only dominant on the scoreboard, but Jared Bednar's crew was also the top puck possession team in the regular season with a Corsi For percentage of 58.98 at 5v5 (according to Natural Stat Trick). They also out-chanced the rest of the West Division with a 60.53 Scoring Chances For percentage coupled with scoring 66 High-Danger Goals. Vegas scored 69 but gave up 67; Colorado gave up just 42.

In the series against the Blues, the Avalanche didn't let up; they controlled play 58.29 percent of the time and scored six HDGF while only allowing one against. In the regular season, they led the division with a 52.59 percent against the Golden Knights but the teams were even in high-danger goals.

SN's pick: Golden Knights in 7

West Division: (1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (2) Vegas Golden Knights

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)/Results
Sun., May 30 at Colorado 8 p.m. (NBC)
TBD at Colorado TBD
TBD at Vegas TBD
TBD at Vegas TBD
*TBD at Colorado TBD
*TBD at Vegas TBD
*TBD at Colorado TBD

* If necessary

West Division second-round series odds

Colorado Avalanche -194 Vegas Golden Knights +156

(Odds courtesy of FanDuel)

First-round predictions

(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (4) St. Louis Blues

  • SN's pick: Avalanche in 5
  • Series result: Avalanche in 4

(2) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (3) Minnesota Wild

  • SN's pick: Golden Knights in 6
  • Series result: Golden Knights in 7

NHL playoff predictions: North Division

(3) Winnipeg Jets vs. (1) Toronto Maple Leafs or (4) Montreal Canadiens

Stay tuned . . .

NHL playoff updated odds to win Stanley Cup

(Odds courtesy of FanDuel)

Team Odds
Colorado Avalanche +230
Boston Bruins +500
Tampa Bay Lightning +550
Vegas Golden Knights +600
Carolina Hurricanes +700
Toronto Maple Leafs +700
New York Islanders +1200
Winnipeg Jets +1700
Montreal Canadiens +7000

Sporting News' Stanley Cup predictions

Stanley Cup semifinals

(1) Golden Knights vs. (4) Bruins Golden Knights in 6
(2) Hurricanes vs. (3) Maple Leafs Maple Leafs in 6

Stanley Cup Final

(1) Golden Knights vs. (3) Maple Leafs Golden Knights in 6
Conn Smythe Trophy Marc-Andre Fleury

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar could miss elimination game due to 'irregular' COVID-19 test? .
Goaltending coach Jussi Parkkila handled whistle duties on Thursday morning with Bednar absent.As Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the NHL's website noted, Colorado head coach Jared Bednar missed Thursday's morning skate due to what's being called an "irregularity" with his COVID-19 test result. As of early Thursday afternoon, Bednar's status for the must-win game was up in the air.

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