Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview Round 2: CAR - NYI

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview Round 2: CAR - NYI

 

Much to Don Cherry’s chagrin- a bunch of jerks are now in the second round.  Carolina is the final wild card to beat a top seed who just happened to be the Stanley Cup Champion.  The Hurricanes may not have done the Storm Surge, but they are a true team firing on all cylinders entering the second round. 

 The New York Islanders seem to be an afterthought after an exciting first round filled with overtimes and game 7’s.  All New York did was sweep the Pittsburgh Penguins and take a mini-vacation as they watch hockey over the next week.  The Islanders are well rested and ready to take on an exciting Hurricanes team.

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 Carolina is a Corsi shots for darling- and they sprayed shots at goal every game against Washington.  Eight different players scored two goals or more in round one, led by Warren Foegele, with 4 scores.  Sebastian Aho should continue to average over 22 minutes a game as he is the unquestioned leader of the Canes.  Dougie Hamilton scored 3 goals from his defensive position and can be counted on to provide needed offense in round 2.

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 A major question facing the Islanders heading into the playoffs of was their ability to score.  New York showed enough firepower to handily knock Pittsburgh out of the playoffs.  Jordan Eberle nailed home 4 goals leading the Islanders offense.  Mathew Barzal sparkled in round 1, with 5 assists, followed by fellow Valtteri Filppula with 4.  The Islanders seemed to score fairly easily against the Penguins in round 1 by spreading chances around the team.  They need to keep this up in order to get past Carolina.

Petr Mrazek did good enough to give the Hurricanes a chance to get by Washington.  Mrazek displays 2.54 goals against average, but only 89.9% shots saved percentage.  His stats are somewhat skewed after the Capitals scored 6 goals in game 5, but Mrazek ended the series with 4 wins to his credit.  He will need to play better against the Islanders to give Carolina an opportunity to win the series.  His opposition in the Islanders net- is hard to beat.

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Robin Lehner continued his dominant play in the first round.  Lehner shut down the Pens potent offense to the tune of 1.47 goals per game.  The Islanders netminder only allowed 6 goals on 136 shots against to get past him for an amazing 95.6% save percent.  Lehner faces a different kind of team in Carolina- he can expect more shots coming at him from every angle imaginable.  His continued outstanding play is mandatory for the Islanders to win.

I believe the series goes another 7 games.  The analytics love the Carolina Hurricanes based on their stats, but Robin Lehner is hard to beat.  The Islanders have had time to prepare and their coach, Barry Trotz, is one of the best in the business.  The teams are nearly equal according to my numbers and the Canes are the better betting value in the matchup.  I can see a coin flip type game in game 7 that either team can win.

 Give me the Islanders in game 7, even though my money goes with Carolina.  I know it’s a tough proposition, but check the Deep Dive podcast the guys did with Rob Pizzola for an excellent explanation of betting where there is value.

Current Odds:

Carolina +100

New York Islanders -120

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview Round 2: COL - SJ

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview Round 2: COL – SJ

Colorado is another wild card team playing in the second round of the NHL playoffs.  The Avalanche, beaten badly in Game 1, defeated Calgary four straight times in a first round upset.  The Avalanche clearly were the best team in the series, even though many rated them as the weakest team making the playoffs.

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 San Jose, on the other hand, narrowly escaped Vegas only after a controversial penalty call midway through the third period.  Down by three goals, with roughly a 2% chance to win, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski was cross checked after a face off.  Pavelski, tripped over another player hitting the ice head first.  The referees hit Vegas with a 5-minute major penalty and San Jose scored 4 goals in 5 minutes.  Vegas tied the game to force overtime, but San Jose prevailed punching their ticket to round 2.

 Colorado dominated Calgary with outstanding play in the net by Philip Grubauer.  Calgary dominated in game 1, but Grubauer allowed no more than 2 goals in the following 4 games of the series.  Grubauer blocked 93.9% of the Flames shots on goal and gives the Avs a major advantage over San Jose.

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 A major reason Colorado may advance is the play of Nathan MacKinnon.  The Avs center was the best player on ice in round 1 and should remain the best player in the current series.  Mikko Rantanen averaged a goal a game and enters the second round as the Avs hottest scorer.  This one-two punch is the best combination in the series.  Colorado’s defense set up a wall around goal and prevented Calgary from getting easy shots.  The Avalanche are hitting on all cylinders coming into this series and benefit from a week’s worth of rest.

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 The Sharks are the deeper team in the playoff, but Joe Pavelski is doubtful for the opening match tonight.  Losing their captain for just one game is a major blow for a Sharks team that endured a physical matchup against their main rival, Vegas.  A major bonus for San Jose in the first round was the play of Eric Karlsson.  The defenseman contributed 9 assists in the first round and seems fully healthy after an injury plagued season.  Thomas Hertl knocked home six goals and must continue to elevate his game with Pavelski out. 

 San Jose made it past Vegas, despite Martin Jones being the primary goaltender.  Jones allowed 10% of the Vegas shots on goal to get by him in round 1.  He rose to the occasion when needed, but 3.20 goals allowed average is nothing to brag about.  His backup, Aaron Dell, played even worse when called upon for 4 periods.  Dell sports an 86.1% save percentage and is a liability if Jones continues poor play.

 The Avalanche have the more talent at the top of the lineups.  MacKinnon and Rantanen are more than enough to overcome the Sharks defense.  The Sharks are the deeper team across their four lines providing them with the ability for more in game rest in the series.  Grubauer ended the season on fire in the net, while Jones is among the worst goalies left in the playoffs.

My numbers give San Jose a slight edge over the Avs- Sharks overcome poor play in the net and score just enough to win the series in 6.

 

Current Odds:

Colorado +120

San Jose -140