The first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs is finally complete. There were three Game 7s in round one with the road teams going 2-1. The Kraken and Panthers went on the road and pulled the upsets as the Presidents Trophy-winning Boston Bruins and defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche were eliminated on the same night.
Meanwhile, the Devils took care of business on home ice to get back to the second round of the playoffs. However, the action is not going to stop for very long as the second round of the playoffs begins tonight. And there are some interesting matchups in both the Eastern and Western Conferences including the
There is a lot to get to so let’s dive into the second-round preview for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round Preview
Carolina Hurricanes vs. New Jersey Devils
The Carolina Hurricanes are back in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the New York Islanders in six games. Carolina also needed overtime to clinch their series. Their opponents will be a familiar playoff foe in the New Jersey Devils. The Devils needed seven games to defeat the New York Rangers by a score of 4-0 to win a playoff series for the first time since 2012.
The Devils and Hurricanes have played four times in the playoffs with the Hurricanes holding a 3-1 edge. That did not seem to matter to the Devils against the Rangers. New Jersey won their first game seven on home ice since 2003 and their first game seven against the Rangers in franchise history. The Devils took the season series against the Hurricanes. But with the Devils starting on the road, they will be the underdog despite their road record.
Frederik Andersen started Game 6 for the Hurricanes after head coach Rod Brind’Amour make a goalie change from Antti Raanta. The move paid off for the Hurricanes. It will be interesting to see which direction he goes in to start Round 2. While goaltending was not a problem, one area the Hurricanes might struggle with against their second-round opponent is goal-scoring.
Even without Teuvo Teravanien, Max Pacioretty and Andrei Svechnikov in the lineup, the Hurricanes were able to advance. Luckily for them, they faced an opponent in the Islanders that also had a problem scoring goals. Sebastian Aho led the way with four goals and seven points in the series and he will need to be Carolina’s best player again in Round 2.
Defensively the Hurricanes are rock solid, and finally got over the hump of winning on the road in the playoffs. But they are going up against a team that is much more skilled than they are. Their defence and goaltending will be put to the test with the Devils speed.
The Rangers had no answers for the Devils speed in the final four games of the series. When the Devils get going their fast attacking style will wear you down over three periods. And like the Hurricanes, the Devils made a goalie change to Akira Schmid. Schmid was the savor for the Devils in the series. His performance in Games 3 and 4 in the Garden gave the Devils life.
Once the Devils shook off the nerves and once they got a win in the series, their confidence built and built. Their speed was apparent as the Rangers were chasing them around the ice. Carolina had issues with New Jersey’s speed this year too. Schmid is calm and cool in the net. The Hurricanes will find it tough to beat him. He is in a groove and this kid knows how to bounce back.
New Jersey will have to get their power play going and their top stars going as well. The Devils gave up four shorthanded goals in the regular season to the Hurricanes. That has to change. They might find it a little easier now that they took out one of the best goalies in the world. But Erik Haula was a force in Round 1 and Ondrej Palat got going when it mattered most. The Devils need more from Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Timo Meier if they want to get past Carolina.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers
Here is something you don’t say every day the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Maple Leafs defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games winning all three games on the road in overtime. It is the first time in 19 years (2004) that the Maple Leafs advanced to round two. Their opponents will be the Florida Panthers who upset the Presidents Trophy winners Boston Bruins in Game 7 in overtime thanks to a Carter Verhagae goal.
The Panthers will be a tough out for Toronto as Florida rallied from 3-1 in the series to beat Boston winning two in overtime. Both the Panthers and Maple Leafs will be looking to get into unfamiliar territory. The Panthers have not been to the conference final since 1998 while the Maple Leafs have not been to the conference final since 2002. This will be a fast and fun series.
Now that Toronto is through to the second look for them to play more loosely. You could see there was a lot of tension in the first round for them. But winning three overtime games, two in comeback fashion is the kind of thing a team needs to make a long run. The top guys of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander, and Morgan Reilly played like their top guys. It helps to have guys like Ryan O’Reilly, Luke Schenn and Noel Acciari in the room when things get tough. Not to mention a player of Matthew Knies‘s ilk.
The one thing that has plagued the Maple Leafs has been goaltending. However, this year Ilya Samsonov has been up to the test. He has made key saves at key times. Samsonov has yet to give up the back-breaking goal that usually demoralizes the Maple Leafs. In Game 6, Samsonov was sharp early with the Lightning charging and was up for the task. He will need to be good for the Leafs to go further. But Toronto just needs to keep playing a gritty grinding style of hockey to make a deep run.
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However, Toronto needs to be careful of this Panthers team that is playing with a lot of confidence. Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, and Nick Cousins are causing chaos on the ice. The Leafs have to be careful of Tkachuk because with Bennett playing the agitator’s role, Tkachuk is out there playing his game. Brandon Montour has turned into a scoring machine for the Panthers joining playoff hero Carter Verhaeghe.
Having been in playoff mode for the second half of the season, the Panthers have seen all kinds of adversity. Remember against Toronto late in the regular season, they were a minute away from not making the playoffs and their season being done. Paul Maurice has pushed all the right buttons thus far especially inserting Sergei Bobrovsky into the series against the Bruins. The $10 Million Dollar Man saved the Panthers season and has been excellent for them. That is why he is paid the big bucks. The question is can he do it again?
There will be a lot of speed and skill on display. Both teams like to be physical. Florida and Toronto drop the puck Tuesday night May 2nd.
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Edmonton Oilers v Vegas Golden Knights
The Edmonton Oilers are heading back to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the second straight year, they knock at the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs. Waiting for the Oilers is the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas took out the Winnipeg Jets in five games in the first round. Since coming into the league the Golden Knights have advanced past the first round for the fourth time. It will be the first time the Oilers and Golden Knights will meet in the playoffs.
However, these teams have a history from the regular season. Like with the Kings, the Oilers won the season series over the Golden Knights. Will that carry over into the playoffs? It did with Los Angeles, but it took the Oilers four games to find their game. The Oilers will need to find even quicker against a very good Golden Knights team that is in a groove, especially on home ice.
Laurent Brossoit has been everything and more for the Golden Knights. There were question marks surrounding him when the playoffs began, but he has passed those tests. Stuart Skinner has played well when needed to, but Edmonton’s defence and goaltending will always be questioned until they win a Stanley Cup. Jack Campbell saw action in Game 4 against the Kings and saved the series for the Oilers. But from there Skinner took over again.
We have yet to see Connor McDavid go off in the playoffs, but the Kings had two great defensive-minded centers. McDavid should have more room out there. Leon Draisaitl continues to be a playoff performer with 11 points (seven goals and four assists) in six games. McDavid is right behind him with 10 points, but Draisaitl is making more of an impact right now. But with the rest of the depth scoring going for the Oilers they will be tough to stop.
On the other side, Jack Eichel is showing people why he was made for the playoffs. He had a solid first-round series against the Jets. So did Mark Stone, who was back in the lineup. Both of those players will have to be stopped if the Oilers want to win. With Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson, each having four goals against the Jets, the Golden Knights are getting back to playing a team game similar to how they got to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year.
This will be a fun series to watch.
Dallas Stars vs. Seattle Kraken
The Dallas Stars are back in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since their run to the Stanley Cup Final in the 2020 bubble. Dallas eliminated the Minnesota Wild in six games and it was even that close in the final three games. Their opponents will be Seattle Kraken who eliminated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche in seven games.
A big reason why Dallas is marching on s goaltender Jake Oettinger. Oettinger as he did against the Calgary Flames last year showed he is a playoff performer. Once the Stars got a lead, he shut the door. That was apparent in Games 5 and 6. And if it was not for a late third period on Marcus Johansson in Game 4 this might be a different series. Oettinger is the type of goalie you win within the playoffs.
There is no reason why the Stars can’t make a run to the Stanley Cup Final. Usually, a Pete DeBoer-coached team goes to the final in his first year. We will see if that trend continues. But that trend can continue if Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, and Wyatt Johnston all are stepping up their play in the absence of Joe Pavelski. It will be interesting to see when he returns.
The Stars will be in a fight with the Kraken. Seattle plays a team-first game as they continuously roll four lines no matter what the score is. The Kraken wore the Avalanche down by rolling those four lines. It also helped Seattle scored the first goal in each of the seven games. They locked it down defensively after that. Seattle had 15 different goal scorers in that series against Colorado. That was a trend that carried over from the regular season.
As with Dallas, goaltending was a big part of why Seattle is in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in their second year of existence. Philipp Grubauer stood on his head for Seattle as he got revenge on his former club. Grubauer will have to match Oettinger in this series if Seattle wants to move on. But Dallas has the players to play a physical series. Dallas won the season series but that does not matter in the playoffs.
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