Well, with one of the wildest first rounds on record over, we can now look ahead to what’s left in the field and hope that this next round of games can rival the whacky series we just saw.
We have previewed each of the second-round series, showing key stats, an X-Factor and just what the general outlook is for all teams. You can check them all out below.
NY ISLANDERS vs. CAROLINA HURRICANES
A couple of all for one, one for all teams both pulled off big opening round upsets, combining to eliminate the past three Stanley Cup champions. Few would have predicted in October that one of these two would be in the Eastern Conference final, which is now just four wins away. Carolina traditionally goes on deep playoffs runs when they do get here, but after winning the Cup last year Barry Trotz did a radical makeover of the Islanders that has made them the best team story of 2018-19. Someone’s Cinderella tale will come to an end.
BOSTON BRUINS vs. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
The Bruins are the only team still standing that has won a Stanley Cup within the past 12 years, while the Blue Jackets are coming off their first-ever playoff series win. And the way they did it, sweeping the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Lighting, has us looking at them completely different. Both teams were active on the market at the trade deadline and those pickups have paid off. This will be a case study of a rested team versus one coming off a long, emotional series win. Who has the edge?
SAN JOSE SHARKS vs. COLORADO AVALANCHE
Columbus wasn’t the only No. 8 seed to earn a first round upset. The Colorado Avalanche took it to the Calgary Flames, extinguishing the Western Conference champs in five quick games. Now, they face a Sharks team deeper in scoring talent up front and with some superstar power on the blue line. It’s amazing the Sharks are even here, given they trailed their series with Vegas 3-1 and were even down 3-0 in Game 7 with just 11 minutes to go. Colorado is a team on the rise, while the Sharks are hoping this is the time they finally break through to win hockey’s top prize.
DALLAS STARS vs. ST. LOUIS BLUES
The two hottest teams from the Central Division as the regular season wound down were able to down the top two seeds in Nashville and Winnipeg, both in six games. Both are great stories in their own right. The Blues were last in the NHL standings on Jan. 3 and mounted a furious comeback in the second half that put them on contention for the division title on the very last day. Dallas, meantime, was called out by their CEO in December and though they had a lot of ups and downs in Jim Montgomery’s first season behind the bench, they got better and more consistent down the stretch and play a fun, though strong defensive, kind of game.