2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second-round matchups

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Want to know when and how to watch each game? Check out the second-round schedule here.

Eastern Conference

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Washington really had to sweat it against Toronto, but while the journey took more twists and turns than expected, both juggernauts ended up in a position to justify their statuses as favorites.

During the Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby runs for the franchises, the Penguins won both second-round series (first in 2009 and then last year). In each case, Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Will the Capitals finally break through in what might be their best chance ever? There isn’t a better way for them to truly prove their mettle than to do so against a Penguins team that looks dangerous, even with key injuries to consider.

Stream Capitals vs Penguins Here

Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers

Both teams beat higher seeds in the first round, surprising at least some. There are some fun storylines here, from a clash of two star Swedes (Erik Karlsson vs. Henrik Lundqvist) to fun trade talk involving Mika Zibanejad and Derick Brassard.

On paper, these teams aren’t as linked as the other East series, but playoff glory can make franchises become hated rivals in little time.

Stream Rangers vs Senators Here

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

So much orange. So many goals?

With the Blackhawks, Kings, Wild and Sharks out, the Ducks get home-ice in the West and probably rank as the most familiar contender in a conference that seems heavy on “new blood.” Then again, they’re still driven by a red-hot Ryan Getzlaf, but this isn’t the same Anaheim squad as the last time they made a longer run.

Speaking of new blood, it’s unavoidable to describe the Oilers any other way. Edmonton hopes to keep its first playoff run in more than a decade going, and this series might actually be a better showcase for Connor McDavid than those tighter games vs. the Sharks.

Stream Ducks vs Oilers Here

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Is there a matchup of goalies on hotter streaks right now than Jake Allen vs. Pekka Rinne? These “underdogs” held the top teams in the Central Division to one playoff victory combined.

While there are plenty of carryover characters from previous postseason editions of the Blues (Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen) and the Predators (Roman Josi), there’s also a new Blues coach in Mike Yeo and newly featured Nashville pieces such as P.K. Subban.

Stream Blues vs Predators Here

Which team will go deeper than many outside of their locker room expected? We’ll find out.

The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)

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Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

Carlyle: Injured d-men Vatanen, Fowler should be available for second round

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Reinforcements could be on the way for the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the playoffs.

The Ducks swept the Calgary Flames in the first round, which gives them some additional time off until the next round. And that time off could be beneficial for a pair of injured defensemen — Sami Vatanen and Cam Fowler.

Vatanen played just over 22 minutes in the series opener versus Calgary but hasn’t played since then because of an upper-body injury. He was considered day-to-day as a result. Fowler hasn’t played since April 4 because of a knee injury — suffered against the Flames.

Both defensemen are productive offensively, but they also eat up valuable minutes for the Ducks. Fowler led the team in ice time during the regular season, playing nearly 25 minutes per game, while Vatanen was third in that category. Naturally, both are relied upon for the power play and penalty kill.

Although Anaheim awaits its next opponent, it would be a huge boost for the Ducks to get Vatanen and Fowler both as healthy as possible and back into the lineup.

As of Thursday, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said there is no specific timetable for either blue liner, however they should both be available for the second round.

Flames’ Elliott ‘still can’t explain’ soft opening goal in Game 4 loss

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Brian Elliott‘s night didn’t last long. The same is true for the Flames’ foray into the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Needing a win Wednesday to stave off elimination and a first-round sweep against the Anaheim Ducks, Elliott got the start but was pulled less than six minutes in after allowing a bad goal from Patrick Eaves, giving the visitors an early lead.

Speaking to reporters after the game, a 3-1 Flames loss, ending their season, Calgary’s coach Glen Gulutzan admitted he didn’t like the goal Elliott gave up and that he felt his team at that time “needed a spark.”

Gulutzan certainly didn’t waste any time making his decision to pull Elliott.

Chad Johnson entered the game and was promptly scored on. The Flames, meanwhile, were only able to get one by Ducks goalie John Gibson, who redeemed himself after a shaky outing in Game 3.

“As a goalie you take pride in giving yourself and your team a chance to win every night and that, off the bat, I still can’t explain how it goes under my pad there,” said Elliott, per the Calgary Herald.

“I feel bad. I didn’t give our guys a chance right off the bat. It was definitely a short leash – I’m not saying I deserve a longer one after that. It’s tough when you can’t go out and redeem yourself, but the guys went out and did a great job trying to come back. They put it all out there, I’m definitely proud of them.”

That same column also strongly suggested — or stated outright — that the 32-year-old Elliott’s time with the Flames is done after one season.

Acquired last summer from St. Louis, Elliott is a pending unrestricted free agent, per CapFriendly, at the end of a three-year, $7.5 million contract he signed while with the Blues.

He was streaky at times during the season, but ultimately struggled in the latter half of this series, particularly in a Game 3 Flames collapse, before getting the hook after just three shots faced Wednesday.

Ducks sweep the Flames, advance to second round

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The Anaheim Ducks are off to the second round. The Calgary Flames now head into the off-season.

The Ducks completed a first-round sweep of the Flames thanks to a 3-1 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday.

In Game 3, the Flames had a three-goal lead and coughed that up in an overtime loss. In the end, that proved devastating. In the deciding game, the Flames couldn’t complete a comeback of their own after the worst start imaginable.

Brian Elliott let in a soft opening goal to Patrick Eaves and was pulled less than six minutes into the game. Nate Thompson and the Ducks capitalized again, just 1:08 later, this time beating Chad Johnson.

That put Calgary behind right away and despite a second-period power play goal from Sean Monahan — his fourth of the post-season — the Flames never fully recovered.

A big reason for that was the play of Ducks goalie John Gibson. He was pulled in Game 3, then watched as back-up Jonathan Bernier stopped every shot he faced in Anaheim’s comeback win.

But Gibson regrouped nicely in Game 4, making 36 saves, a number of which were of the difficult variety. Going back to Gibson was apparently an easy decision for coach Randy Carlyle, and the Ducks were ultimately rewarded with a stellar effort from their netminder.

The Ducks should now get a substantial rest heading into the second round. The Edmonton-San Jose series is guaranteed to go at least six games. A few days in between games could certainly be beneficial for Anaheim, particularly when it comes to injured defensemen Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen.

Vatanen wasn’t available for Game 4, while Fowler has resumed skating since his April 4 knee injury.