How they got here. The plucky Colorado Avalanche gave the top-seeded Nashville Predators all they could handle in the first round for a surprisingly entertaining series. The Predators prevailed in six games, but a few warts were exposed — especially the propensity for allowing a late goal.
The Winnipeg Jets, meanwhile, won the franchise’s first playoff series since April 1987, when all but four players on the Jets roster hadn’t even been born. Another reminder of how long ago it was: “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me),” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael, was the No. 1 single on the Billboard 100.
Defense. The Predators may have had some defensive lapses against the Avalanche in the first round, but they still boast the most talented top six in the league (and they did show up in that stifling Game 6 clincher). Against the Wild, the Jets proved they’re not just an offensive team and can win tight, grind-it-out games as well. Dustin Byfuglien exerted a level of physicality in the first-round series that should scare anyone. Injuries are a concern, though. Advantage: Predators
Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan break down the second-round playoff matchups that have been set, and give their top candidates for the Conn Smythe. Plus, Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon and longtime Penguins beat writer Rob Rossi.
After getting seven goals from seven different players during a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round, the Golden Knights matched that with seven players scoring for them on Thursday.
Cody Eakin, Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault scored 1:31 apart early in the first period to get Vegas going. Alex Tuch, Shea Theodore, Colin Miller and James Neal also scored, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson each had three assists, and Marchessault and David Perron added two each.
“It was a great game for us, obviously we played a full 60 minutes and that’s what you want from your team in the playoffs,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “It wasn’t even about the seven goals, it was about how we played the game.”
The Golden Knights, the first team from the opening round to advance, showed no sign of rust after having nine days off since completing their first-round sweep over the Kings. From the opening puck drop, Vegas skated fast, its passes were crisp, and the players were in synch with one another. It has now outscored its opposition 14-3 in five games.
“We got better in practice, we ramped it up, so we were excited to get going.” Neal said. “We talked about having a good first shift and I thought every guy did that tonight. I thought we went to the net well. We did good things, for us I think we have to look at them, they’re going to be a hungry team, they’re going to be a lot better. They’ll be putting that one behind them pretty quick and looking to be a better hockey team so we gotta be ready.”