The NHL has cluttered the start of the second round this year, with Game 1 of Islanders-Lightning dropping the puck before the first round ends. Tonight’s double header of games also features Game 7 of Predators-Ducks.
It is very strange of the NHL to do this, so, as a result, here is a quick preview of New York and Tampa Bay’s second round matchup.
New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Islanders pulled a stunner in my mind, beating one of my Eastern Conference Finals participants in six games in the first round. At the same time, it wasn’t a total team effort.
John Tavares was unbelievable in that series. Its amazing his +/- wasn’t higher than 2. Against the Lightning though, he needs help. The Lightning defense is too good.
Tavares struggled to get help against Tampa Bay; only Ryan Strome (Who did something for once!) had a higher +/- in the series. The Lightning’s offense is very good but underachieved this season.
I said Tampa Bay would start to miss Steven Stamkos in the 2nd round. I’m retracting on that. The Islanders’ defense is not amazing by any means, and Tampa Bay has too many guys with high offensive production. That is without Stamkos. Tampa Bay should be able to carry on one more round without him.
Thomas Griess proved himself with a great series against Florida, finishing with a GAA of 1.79. However, this is Ben Bishop on the other side of the ice we are talking about. His GAA was even lower, but more importantly, Bishop has the experience over Griess. Bishop has been in big spots before. That matters, big time.
I think Tampa Bay is the better team in all areas. If New York gets this to seven games, it will be largely in part to another huge contribution from John Tavares and a crappy performance from the Lightning defense, which all in all, is very hard to see.
Pick: Lightning in 6
On Predators-Ducks Game 7…
It is very hard to preview a certain Game 7, mostly due to the fact that picking these games are crapshoots. However, my original pick was Predators in 7, so I will roll with that.