MR. ALWAYS WRITE
After going 5-3 through the First Round of my 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs predictions, we’ll see how this full slate of Second Round matchups swings my momentum moving forward.
First Round Recap
As a quick summary, here’s how things concluded through the First Round.
Toronto (3)/Montreal (4)
Edmonton (0)/Winnipeg (4)
Carolina (4)/Nashville (2)
Florida (2)/Tampa Bay (4)
Pittsburgh (2)/New York (4)
Washington (1)/Boston (4)
Colorado (4)/St. Louis (0)
Vegas (4)/Minnesota (3)
Because why shouldn’t the underdogs have taken the majority of these rounds? The uniqueness of the season stretched right into the playoffs, as this wasn’t a typical bracket setup from the start.
However, that’s not to say that the victorious teams weren’t worthy. Clearly, they proved to be and kudos to them for that. How much further they’ll be able to take this journey is currently yet to be seen and starts at the Second Round.
Continuing Through the Second Round
Winnipeg vs. Montreal
First and foremost, many (including myself) had Montreal Canadiens out as of the First Round. They were playing the powerhouse Toronto Maple Leafs, after all. Well, the Canadiens had other plans and the Maple Leafs simply couldn’t compete.
While that’s an upset that I didn’t foresee, the Winnipeg Jets finding a way to bypass the Edmonton Oilers was one that I felt was quite likely. And they proved me right.
As these northern underdogs now go head-to-head, both deserve credit for being in this position in the first place. With that, I think the Jets will continue to surprise by leveraging their balanced lineup while Connor Hellebuyck edges out Carey Price between their respective pipes.
Prediction: Jets in 6.
Carolina vs. Tampa Bay
Wasn’t it shocking to see the Tampa Bay Lightning, who successfully circumvented the salary cap with the return of superstar Nikita Kucherov, manhandle the Florida Panthers? No, of course it wasn’t. Florida had an impressive season, but Tampa are the reigning champs for a reason.
In the other Central series, the Carolina Hurricanes did what the hockey world expected when they sent the Nashville Predators home. It took them six games to do so, which was more than I expected, but they inevitably got the job done.
These are two of the most well-rounded and potent teams in the entire league, so it truly could go either way. Regardless, it will be a fun and fast series to follow.
Prediction: Hurricanes in 6.
Boston vs. New York
Personally, I did not see either of these teams finding a way through let alone facing off in the Second Round. Yet, there they are. Two of my least favourite teams (and fanbases) now one step closer to a goal I don’t wish either will win.
However, I am an objective hockey observer at the foundation of my fandom and each of these clubs deserves our respect. Not only for pushing further through the postseason but for their sheer dominance of each First Round foe.
While the world seems to think the Bruins should take this one easily, it feels like that will only fuel the Islanders. New York has been an underrated club for years now, despite their continual progression. I expect the torch to pass as Boston is pushed off of their pedestal.
Prediction: Islanders in 6.
Colorado vs. Vegas
With Tampa and Carolina leading the storyline throughout the East, that leaves the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights to showcase their skill at the top of the West.
Many have expressed their disappointment that such strong teams can’t find a way to meet in the Stanley Cup Final. However, being the best means you have to beat the rest at some point or another anyway. So, instead of fixating on when they’re meeting, let’s just enjoy the hockey that lies ahead.
The reality is that these franchises aren’t only two of the strongest in their division or even their side of the continent. They are among the elite throughout the league. I’m ready for a series full of a Nathan MacKinnon versus Marc-Andre Fleury showcase, aren’t you?
Prediction: Golden Knights in 7.
What Comes Next
Once the Second Round is complete, the bracket will take another shift as the Stanley Cup Semifinals will include the first set of interdivisional matchups throughout this postseason.
Who will the top four include? Stay tuned as we’ll all find out together in a couple of weeks, at most.
Don’t forget to include all those custom hashtags across your socials as you cheer on your team the rest of the way.