HabsWorld.net -- 

The second round of this year’s playoffs is about to begin, and the HabsWorld writers shared their predictions on which NHL teams will win their respective series. The first game of the second round starts May 5th in New York.

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers vs Carolina Hurricanes

Oren Weizman predicts: Rangers in 6 games
Norm Szcyrek predicts: Hurricanes in 6 games
Kevin Leveille predicts: Rangers in 7 games
Brian La Rose predicts: Rangers in 7 games

(Oren) When it comes to a clash of the titans, the Rangers present an exceptionally potent team, arguably their strongest in the past three decades. The question arises: where do we begin? Is it with Adam Fox, the Calgary trade fodder who has blossomed into a perennial Norris Trophy nominee, quarterbacking a defence that features the formidable Jacob Trouba? Or perhaps with Artemi Panarin, as reliable as an AK-47, spearheading an offence that terrifies opponents? The Hurricanes face a daunting challenge, but they are no slouches themselves. This series will likely hinge on secondary scoring, where a certain former Hab might make a significant impact—if he can step up his game. However, my prediction is that by the time he does, the Canes might find themselves trailing in the series more than they can recover from.

(Norm) If ever a series were destined to go the distance, it’s this one. These two teams met in the 2022 playoffs, and the Rangers took that series in seven games. The Rangers and Hurricanes are so evenly matched; the Rangers were only three points ahead of their division rival this season. New York had slightly better offensive numbers, but Carolina had better defensive numbers. During the first round, both teams took care of their opponents rather quickly. Seth Jarvis has seven points to lead his team, while Mika Zibanejad has the same number. Carolina newcomers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jake Guentzel are contributing points. The Hurricanes’ power play was on fire in the first round, and if they can carry that forward, it should be the edge to leading them to victory.

(Kevin) In the least surprising of the second round matchups, two well-rounded teams face off in what should be an absolute war. Both teams will try to forecheck the opposition into the ground, so I expect a ton of seismic-sized momentum shifts in every game. Both teams had excellent goaltending in the opening round, though one wonders how long Frederik Andersen can keep it up before getting hurt, so the Rangers have a slight advantage that has the potential to become a big one there.

The Rangers also hold an advantage, at least in my mind, when it comes to the physicality that a series like this can bring. However, the Canes went out and acquired some offensive punch that could quickly counter the Rangers should they delve into undisciplined play. Two big differences that are potentially irrelevant but convinced me in my pick. The first is the presence of Vincent Trocheck. Remember that the Hurricanes dispatched Trocheck who wasn’t thrilled about leaving, he might be out for revenge and has already been quite good in these playoffs. The second is the regular season home records as the Rangers were scary good at Madison Square Garden. In a series as evenly matched as this one, that can play big with Game 7 going in New York.

(Brian) Rest won’t be an issue for either team as they’ve been off for a while already; there’s no real advantage to glean.  The Rangers are known as being underachievers in the postseason but they get a little better each time.  Carolina, meanwhile, is one of the steadier teams in the playoffs.  They were the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division by a country mile.  This has all the makings of a seven-game battle, one that I think New York comes away with the win in.

Western Conference

Edmonton Oilers vs. Vancouver Canucks

Oren Weizman predicts: Oilers in 7 games
Norm Szcyrek predicts: Oilers in 6 games
Kevin Leveille predicts: Canucks in 7 games
Brian La Rose predicts: Oilers in 5 games

(Oren) After delivering a severe trouncing to the Kings, Edmonton hopes to extend their dominant performance against the Canucks. Vancouver brings a balanced offence to the table, but the depth starts to thin notably after Filip Hronek. Further complications arise with Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko, who is dealing with an injury. This could significantly hamper their defensive capabilities. In my view, this series represents the end of the line for the Canucks, as the Oilers’ momentum seems unstoppable. For now …

(Norm) Vancouver dominated Edmonton during the regular season winning all four games. They beat Edmonton by five points in their division and have home-ice advantage. During the first round, the Canucks were led by Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller, each with six points. Due to injuries to their starting and backup goaltender, Arturs Silovs stepped in to earn two of the team’s four wins. Edmonton was led by their captain Connor McDavid with twelve points during the first round. Despite Vancouver’s advantages, I am giving Edmonton the nod to win this series. I like their goaltending and offence more than Vancouver’s, and they showed they can play tight defensive games in the first round. I think the X-factor will be Zach Hyman, who scored seven goals in the first round and was very physically engaged.

(Kevin) This has to be the hardest series to predict so far in these playoffs. The Canucks come into the series having faced and overcome some adversity while the Oilers dispatched the Kings with relative ease. How will the Oilers face a far tougher test in the second round? Add to that question mark the Canucks’ uncertainty in the crease. Sure, all three of their netminders held up quite well against the Predators, but the Oilers pack a far more intimidating offensive punch. How will Arturs Silovs or Casey DeSmith handle McDavid and Company if they have to? How much does it affect the series if the Canucks get Demko back?

At the other end of the ice, the Oilers face a far more capable offensive team in the Canucks, and the Canucks face a far more permissive team in the Oilers when compared to the Preds. Is that a recipe for disaster for the Oilers? The Oilers hold the advantage up front, but the Canucks are stronger everywhere else. There are just so many variables at play that can significantly alter the outcome of this series. Flip a coin and call it.

(Brian) For me, this comes down to Vancouver’s goaltending or lack thereof.  You can get away with DeSmith and Silovs against a pop-gun offence like Nashville’s.  You can’t get away with those two against a high-end attack like Edmonton’s.  Demko might make it back by the end of the series but I’m not convinced it won’t be over by then.  I don’t trust Edmonton all that much but give them four or five games against a backup goalie and they’re going to take advantage of it.