NHL SECOND ROUND PREVIEW EASTERN CONFERENCE
2023-05-02 · 2 min read · NHL/Hockey
The Canadian Press | AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Toronto Maple Leafs Vs Florida Panthers
- Finally, back in the second round, the Leafs get arguably the lesser of the two evils as the wildcard Florida Panthers are coming off a historic upset of the top-seeded Boston Bruins. A major question here is who has momentum on their side. Is it Toronto for getting past the first round in nearly two decades or the Panthers who vanquished the Presidents' Trophy winners in an ironic twist of fate, given they won it last year and were swept in the second round? I have to back the Leafs as they looked great in the first-round defeat of Tampa who won the Eastern conference the last three years. Their offence is particularly potent, and their stars have been delivering, as they have six players with at least seven points so far. Ilya Samsonov numbers may not look spectacular, but he has stood tall when needed for the Leafs winning three overtime games all on the road. The Leafs won three of four in the regular season, with the only loss coming in overtime. Lastly the Panther managed at 59.3 penalty kill against the Bruins, a number that if not notably improved, likely spells trouble against the Leafs. Fun fact it had been 6,948 days between postseason series wins for the Maple Leafs since defeating the Ottawa Senators 19 years ago.
My pick - Leafs in 6
Carolina Hurricanes vs New Jersey Devils
- The top two Metro teams from the regular season are set to face off for a trip to the conference finals, the Hurricanes won the division by a single point. Both of these teams are good and looked at as real contenders headed into the postseason. The Hurricanes are in the second round for the third straight season, seeking their first trip to the Eastern Conference Final since 2019. The Devils meanwhile are in the second round for the first time since 2012, when they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Los Angeles Kings. The x-factor for the series seems to be Devils netminder Akira Schmid, who took over for Vitek Vanacek after New Jersey lost the first two games of the first round. The rookie proceeded to go 4-1 with a 1.38 GAA, .951 save percentage and two shutouts. The 22-year-old rebounded from being pulled after allowing five goals on 29 shots in a 5-2 game six loss to stop all 31 shots he faced in a 4-0 win in Game 7, becoming the fifth rookie goalie in NHL history with a Game 7 shutout. Lastly, I'm concerned that the Hurricanes are missing three of their top six forwards due to injuries as Andrei Svechnikov, Max Pacioretty and Teuvo Teravainen are all out, if they are to pull out their depth needs to deliver.
My pick - New Jersey in 7
By: Chase Howard