Welcome back to NHL Predictions. Each day, we take a look at all the games going on around the NHL. Giving analysis and our predictions on every game. Today, round two of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs gets underway! Our featured game of the day is the Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers.
NHL Predictions with Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers
Series: Lightning 0 – 0 Panthers
A rematch of last year’s first-round matchup, this series looks to be a thrilling one. The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off of a very tight seven-game series where they needed a Game 6 and Game 7 win to complete the comeback. It took everything they had in them, but they got it done. Now, their focus is on a Panthers team looking for revenge. For Tampa, they will be starting the series without Brayden Point. Point suffered what looked like a knee injury in Game 7 of the last round and may not be 100% this series. This is a huge loss for Tampa as Point was arguably the Lightning’s best forward in round one. Nikita Kucherov will need to step up in his absence. Kucherov did his thing on the power play in the last series but looked largely invisible at 5v5. That will have to change when going up against a team as deep as Florida.
The other big thing to watch will be the goaltending matchup. The two Russians will be going head-to-head in Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky. Vasilevskiy looked very pedestrian last series until he helped steal Game 7 for the Lightning. Getting him back to his normal Vezina-self is crucial. For Bobrovsky, with how good his team is, he just needs to be good. Don’t be the reason your team loses and that may be enough.
Florida will look to use their depth to overwhelm the Lightning. With no Point, the Panthers can really take advantage of lines two and maybe even three and four because of it. The Lightning has lots of depth too, but the Panthers can make it so they boast someone like Sam Reinhart on their third line if they wish. Overall, look for this to be a physical and tight series.
Prediction: Panthers win 4-2.
St. Louis Blues vs Colorado Avalanche
Series: Blues 0 – 0 Avalanche
Another rematch from the first round in last year’s playoffs, this Blues team also looks a lot different. They are much deeper at forward this year, something that killed them last season. Brandon Saad has jumped from one team to another. Additionally, adding the likes of Pavel Buchnevich and a healthy Vladimir Tarasenko gives the Blues lots of ammo to work with. The biggest question will be can their blueline hold up? They will likely have Ryan O’Reilly trying to shut down Nathan MacKinnon. However, to have success, Colton Parayako is going to need to step up too.
For the Avs, they look to finally break through the second round. After coming off yet another sweep and round one domination, they are hoping their fortunes can turn. They have a loaded blueline that may be best to stop this deep Blues team. Cale Makar looks as good as ever and Devon Toews remains one of the more underrated players. Factor that in with solid goaltending from Darcy Kuemper, and you have a team that is loaded offensively and solid defensively. This should be another physical series. However, look for Colorado’s rested legs to take a little to get going in this one.
Prediction: Blues win 3-2.