NHL 2022 Playoffs Round 2 Preview
We’ve now finished Round One of the 2022 NHL playoffs! We hope your team made it to Round 2, but if not… better luck next year.
Here we’ll have a breakdown of Round One plus previews and predictions for Round Two. Let’s dive in.
Round 1 recap of 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Phew, what a first round that was for hockey fans. Most of the matchups ended up the way we assumed, but there were a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
So, what exactly transpired during the NHL battle for the Stanley Cup in Round 1? Quite a lot, so let’s have a quick summary of all the action on the ice.
- The Avalanche had an easy time (the only team to do so) by sweeping the Predators 4-0. Colorado’s Cale Makar was awesome with three goals and seven assists. Although there was a close 2-1 game that went to overtime, most contests weren’t so hard-fought, including a 7-3 drubbing in Game 3.
- Reigning champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, managed to hold on to another Stanley Cup aspiration by defeating the Maple Leafs, 4-3. The Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov shined with two goals and six assists. Game 6 was a thrilling 4-3 OT win for Tampa Bay that really turned the series.
- Carolina narrowly defeated the rampaging Bruins, 4-3 (Boston’s sports hopes now rest with the Celtics in the NBA Conference Finals). Both the Hurricanes’ Tony DeAngelo (one goal, seven assists) and Jaccob Slavin (two goals, six assists) were excellent against Boston. A wild 3-2 Game 7 capped off the exciting series.
- The Rangers got the better of the Penguins, 4-3. New York’s Adam Fox picked up three goals and six assists. Although down 3-1 at one point in the series, the Rangers fought back to win the next three games, including a stressful 4-3 OT victory in Game 7.
- Florida beat Washington, 4-2. The Panthers’ Carter Verhaeghe was instrumental in the series win with six goals and six assists. Losing two games was a bit of a scare, but the Panthers looked unstoppable, especially in the Game 6 win, 5-3.
- The St. Louis Blues eliminated the Minnesota Wild, 4-2. The Blues’ David Perron had a fantastic series with five goals and four assists. Game 6 was a great ending, with St. Louis ending things, 5-1.
- Calgary had an intense battle against Dallas, but the Flames were victorious, 4-3. Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau led the team with two goals and five assists. Dallas’ goalie, Jake Oettinger, was incredible despite the loss, saving 64 shot attempts. A 3-2 OT Game 7 win was the cherry on top for Calgary.
- The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 4-3. As expected, the Oilers’ Connor McDavid was excellent with four goals and 10 assists. Most of the series was a real clash, but Game 7 actually ended pretty easily for the Oilers, 2-0.
Key matchups and favorites to move to the NHL Conference Finals
Round 2 is finally here. Which teams will progress to the Conference Finals and reach ever closer to the hallowed Stanley Cup? Here are our predictions for which teams will keep their chances alive for a title.
Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues
Colorado had a fairly easy Round 1, but they shouldn’t get too comfortable against St. Louis, which will likely go to six games. It will certainly help that the Avalanche has had far more time to recover weary muscles while waiting for their Round 2 opponent.
Colorado will need to watch for the Blues’ goalie, Jordan Binnington, who has allowed just five goals in three starts for the team. However, the Avalanche has more than enough offensive firepower to sneak past the net, especially if Maker and MacKinnon are in the flow.
Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers
These two teams haven’t met in the playoffs since 1991! This is an exciting matchup simply because of Connor McDavid’s presence on the ice, but we feel that the Flames are an overall better team and play with more spirit.
The Oilers’ goalie, Mike Smith, is playing well and is sometimes overlooked, but against Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm? He’s going to have his work cut out for him.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers
The Battle of Florida starts here! The Lightning got the better of the Panthers in this matchup in the last NHL playoffs, and eventually won the Stanley Cup. However, the Panthers are more prepared this time around and won’t roll over to accept defeat.
The Lightning’s secret weapon (well, maybe not that secret) is certainly their goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is astonishingly good at blocking shots from all angles on the rink. On the other side of the ice, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov is a real handful for the Panthers and will prove too much for any defenders unlucky enough to be near him.
New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Perhaps the hardest series to predict, as both teams play a similar style and neither seems to have a strong advantage over the other. The scoring has been amazing for both teams of late, as is the goaltending, but one factor to look at is the Rangers’ overall lack of big playoff experience. Can the team handle the bright lights?
The Rangers have an excellent goalie in Igor Shesterkin, as well as one of the best offensive players in the league, Mika Zibanejad. More than that, the Rangers just seem to have a good aura about them right now. The playoff experience has to start somewhere, and the team has a fighting attitude that will carry them to the next round.
8 storylines to watch in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Here’s what you need to keep an eye on in Round Two.
- Florida’s NHL rivalry – The Lightning and Panthers always have an intense matchup and it’s awesome to have this competition in the Sunshine State for Round Two. Expect a lot of tension and thrills here.
- A loooong gap between playoff matchups – Edmonton and Calgary haven’t played a playoff game since 1991, so the atmosphere will be thick and heated between these cities in Alberta, Canada (an equally good rivalry)
- Can Colorado get past the Second Round? – The Avalanche has lost in Round 2 for the past three seasons, so there are a lot of expectations placed on the team’s shoulders. However, Colorado hasn’t looked this good in years, so now’s the best chance.
- Tampa Bay three-peat? – It seems hard to imagine, but the Lightning has the chance to win three Stanley Cups in a row. All eyes will be on Tampa Bay to see if they can pull off this rare achievement (last time was the Islanders from 1981-1983).
- A lot of goal scoring from Round One… can it go on? – We hope so! There were many, many goals from Round 1, especially as so many matchups went to seven games. This is great for the league, as we all want a fast, offense-based NHL that keeps casual fans engaged.
- Who is the best NHL player so far? – It seems a battle between Cale Maker (Avalanche) and Connor McDavid (Edmonton) right now. A Western Conference Final with these two superstars would be perfect for the league.
- The status of Brayden Point – Tampa Bay’s Point is one of the best players for the Lightning, but after a bad injury in Round One, his status is listed as “doubtful” for Game 1 of the matchup against Florida. He’s incredibly consistent and his gap would be hard to fill.
- Binnington is key for the Blues – A lot of St. Louis’ defense will hinge largely on Jordan Binnington’s goalie efforts. How long can he shut out the surging offense of the Avalanche? He’ll need to have the series of his career for the Blues to have any chance against the title favorites.
Author: Joe Garland