2022 NHL Playoffs: Second Round predictions

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The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are now down to eight teams after a First Round where all but two of the higher seeds advanced and we finished with a weekend that gave us five Game 7s.

For the Second Round we have rematches of recent playoff series, plus the first postseason Battle of Alberta since 1991. Will the Panthers end the Lightning’s quest for a three-peat? Can the Rangers continue their magic? Is this the year the Avalanche finally reach the Western Conference Final? Will Brady Tkachuk find himself inside Rogers Place to root on brother Matthew?

On to the Second Round predictions!

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]



Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Lightning in 7. The Lightning are not the same team that they have been the past two seasons, but you are not going to get rid of them easily. They got through the First Round with Andrei Vasilevskiy looking human. He can be better, and I think he will be. If he is, I am still not sure how anybody beats them. I like their experience and goaltending over a Florida team that was probably very fortunate to get by Washington.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Lightning in 7. Anyone who doubted the Lightning may be reconsidering how they view this team after Tampa rallied to eliminate Toronto. Simply put, it will take a supreme effort to knock out the Bolts, and while Brayden Point’s injury is cause for concern, I am still going to bet on this championship group to keep hopes of a three-peat alive.

James O’Brien, NHL writer: Lightning in 6. Here’s a take for you: while the Panthers were exposed at times last go-around with the Lightning, it also felt like their pace made Tampa Bay uncomfortable at times. If the Panthers can take advantage of their younger legs and make this a track meet, the three-peat could go incomplete. There’s concern about all that mileage on the Bolts, but they just keep finding ways to get things done.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Lightning in 6. The Lightning had a very tough matchup with the Maple Leafs and finally Andrei Vasilevskiy played like his old self in the last four periods of the season. The Lightning have too much experience and will prevail as Sergei Bobrovsky will have his troubles in net in Round 2.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Panthers in 6. There’s room to improve here for the Cats, especially from Sergei Bobrovsky, who would like to further vanquish his postseason demons. It won’t be easy in this rematch from 2021. The Lightning know how to bounce back from defeats (17-0 since 2020!) and still have Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes. But Tampa Bay has played a lot of hockey over the last two seasons, and this series is the only one this round with a back-to-back scheduled. Is that an edge to Florida? We’ll see. There’s also a revenge factor here from the 2021 series to Carter Verhaeghe wanting to show his old team what they lost.


Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Hurricanes in 5. The Rangers have their share of talent, and there is always the chance Igor Shesterkin can go on a heater at any moment and just steal some games, but I don’t see it happening here for the Rangers. They are going to have to play light years better in this round than they did in the First Round if they are going to have any chance of winning, because not only is Carolina younger and faster than Pittsburgh, the Rangers are also not going to be using an AHL goalie in this series. Carolina is the better team and the Rangers have some major defensive issues.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Hurricanes in 6. This is an intriguing matchup – and not just because it’s the Tony DeAngelo Bowl. On one side, you have an incredibly balanced Hurricanes team, who excel at 5-on-5 play and smother you defensively. On the other side, you have a top-heavy Rangers squad who can seem outmatched at times, but because of their star players and world class goalie, can never be counted out. I’m going with Carolina just because the Rangers have too many holes in their game. New York had the benefit of facing a 3rd-string goalie for most of the Pittsburgh series and a superior team to the Penguins (which I believe the Hurricanes are) would have had no trouble closing the Rangers out after building up that 3-1 series lead.

James O’Brien, NHL writer: Hurricanes in 5. Perhaps the ramshackle Rangers’ defensive structure won’t be exposed as glaringly against a very different type of possession animal in the up-tempo, puck-chucking Hurricanes. But, seeing a banged-up Penguins team often dominate the Rangers (and negate some of the Igor Shesterkin edge) eased much doubt about this one. Then again, it’s hockey, and the Hurricanes get “goalie’d” about as often as the Penguins, so there’s room for an upset.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Hurricanes in 7. While Shesterkin played well in Game 7, he really has not played up to his level since March 10. The Hurricanes have home ice advantage and that will be major if it goes seven games. I like the Hurricanes depth at forward to carry them to the series win while Raanta has provided the team with excellent goaltending.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Rangers in 6. We’ve yet to see regular season Igor Shesterkin in the playoffs and maybe that First Round debut against the Penguins got his feet wet enough that now the Hurricanes could be in trouble. The Rangers did not quit versus Pittsburgh and while pushing a series to seven games could lead to some tired legs, how New York advanced is enough to supply further adrenaline and motivation against Carolina.

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Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Avalanche in 5. My actual prediction for this series is pure chaos. Connor McDavid looks like a man on a mission this postseason and I think he is going to steal a couple of games. But the Flames have the coach, the defense, the depth, and the goalie to get the edge.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Avalanche in 6. I do think the Blues can challenge the Avalanche, but ultimately I am going to ride with Colorado. They have been able to rest, have the best roster, and seem destined to finally break through. However, we’ll see how powerful the Curse of the Second Round is.

James O’Brien, NHL writer: Avalanche in 6. Gee, the Blues sure seem to be in a better place than last time these two teams met, when the Avalanche swept them like you’d shoo away a fly. Ryan O'Reilly is the sort of player who could slow down some of Colorado’s weapons, and the Blues have a versatile array of attackers. But the Avalanche are fresh, Cale Makar is at the height of his powers, and the Blues’ blueline personnel can keep up.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Avalanche in 5. The Oilers will gain a lot of confidence from their first round win and have Connor McDavid carry them once again to victory over their provincial rivals. Calgary had trouble scoring against the Stars (Jake Oettinger was sensational) but it is tougher to score in the playoffs and that will be Calgary’s downfall.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Avalanche in 6. We’re looking at a Blues team this year with better skill than year’s past. The breakthroughs of Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas helped them to a very good season and helped supplement an already solid offense. But the Avalanche are the Avalanche and they made quick work of the Predators in the First Round. Can Jordan Binnington slow them?I don’t think he can for very long, but just enough to make it a series. Colorado has learned the lessons of the past and what it takes to make a deep playoff run. It’s all there for them this season.


Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Flames in 7. My actual prediction for this series is pure chaos. Connor McDavid looks like a man on a mission this postseason and I think he is going to steal a couple of games. But the Flames have the coach, the defense, the depth, and the goalie to get the edge.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Flames in 6. The Oilers barely squeaked by the Kings, who were missing their best defenseman and 4th-leading scorer for the entire series. Now Leon Draisaitl is significantly hurt. Calgary should have the advantage here, particularly if Tyler Toffoli and Matthew Tkachuk – who ended slumps in Game 7 with their first goals of the postseason – can catch fire.

James O’Brien, NHL writer: Flames in 7. We were so, so close to being deprived of a Battle of Alberta, but we’re getting a delicious one. The Flames combine the possession mastery of the Kings (which gave the Oilers fits) with high-end talent that can finish those plays far more often. The Oilers have the highest of high-end talent in Connor McDavid, but a more complete Calgary team takes this.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Oilers in 6. The Oilers will gain a lot of confidence from their first round win and have Connor McDavid carry them once again to victory over their provincial rivals. Calgary had trouble scoring against the Stars (Jake Oettinger was sensational) but it is tougher to score in the playoffs and that will be Calgary’s downfall.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Flames in 6. Hard to believe between all the playoff format changes this is the first Battle of Alberta playoff series in 31 years. We’re going to get some very physical games, probably a suspension or three, and some star power between McDavid Gaudreau, Lindholm, Markstrom, Draisaitl, and the rest. While Mike Smith has been on a run of late, I can’t see him out-dueling Markstrom over the course of the series, and I think that will be a huge factor. The Flames got goalie’d by Jake Oettinger in the First Round and I don’t see that happening again here.

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    Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews returns to ice, hints at retirement

    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    CHICAGO — Longtime Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews returned to the ice but hinted his stellar NHL career could be winding down after 15 years.

    Toews, 34, skated with teammates prior to Chicago’s game with the Dallas Stars. It was his first time practicing with them since a game in Edmonton on Jan. 28.

    He made a statement through the team on Feb. 19 saying he would be stepping away because of the effects of Chronic Immune Response Syndrome and “long COVID.”

    In meeting with reporters, Toews stopped short of saying he hoped to play in any of last-place Chicago’s nine remaining games. His eight-year, $84 million contract is set to expire at the end of the season.

    Toews said he’s feeling stronger, but isn’t sure if he’ll be able to play again for the Blackhawks or another team.

    “Both if I’m being fully honest,” Toews said. “I feel like I’ve said it already, that I’ve gotten to the point where my health is more important.

    “When you’re young and you’re playing for a Stanley Cup and everyone’s playing through something, that means something and it’s worthwhile. But I’m at that point where it feels like more damage is being done than is a good thing.”

    Toews, the Blackhawks’ first-round draft pick (third overall) in 2006, joined the team in 2007 and was a pillar of Stanley Cup championship clubs in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

    At the peak of his career, he was one of the NHL’s top two-way centers, winning the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward in 2013.

    In 1,060 regular-season games, Toews has 371 goals and 509 assists. In 139 playoff games, he’s posted 45 goals and 74 assists, and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2010.

    Toews missed the entire 2020-21 season with Chronic Immune Response System, which caused debilitating inflammation and fatigue.

    He appeared in 71 games in 2021-22, then started this season with renewed energy before slowing and eventually shutting himself down.

    Entering this season, it looked as if Chicago might deal him, as it did fellow star Patrick Kane, before the March trade deadline. But Kane went to the New York Rangers and Toews to injured reserve.

    Toews believed he was progressing before a relapse in January left him so sore and tired that he could barely “put on my skates or roll out of bed to come to the rink.”

    Toews said his progress over the past month has been “pretty encouraging” and he’s delighted to be back among his teammates. He has no timetable beyond that.

    “We’re just going to go day by day here,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. He deserves anything he wants to try to achieve here.”

    Richardson hoped Toews “can take that next step later in the week and hopefully (he) gives us the green light to go in a game.”

    But Toews emphasized his long-term health and ability to lead a “normal life” is most important. He wants to go out on a positive note and not hit the ice for a game playing through excessive pain and dysfunction.

    “It’s definitely on my mind that this could be my last few weeks here as a Blackhawk in Chicago,” Toews said. “It’s definitely very important for me to go out there and enjoy the game and just kind of soak it in and just really appreciate everything I’ve been able to be part of here in Chicago.”

    Budding Wild star Matt Boldy more willing to shoot, and it shows

    Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — Matt Boldy was unable to resist a smile in the aftermath of his second hat trick in five games for the Minnesota Wild, a young right wing and reluctant star trying to make sense of a remarkable hot streak.

    Does the puck feel as if it’s automatically going in the net these days each time he shoots?

    “Yeah, it does,” Boldy said in the locker room after leading the first-place Wild to a 5-1 win over Seattle. “My linemates are playing great. Hopefully you guys are giving them a lot of credit. You look at some of those goals – just putting it on a tee for me.”

    This non-attention-seeker has found himself squarely in the NHL spotlight. Boldy has 11 goals in nine games since Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov was sidelined with a lower-body injury to raise his goal total to 28, in part because he’s been more willing to shoot. With vision and stickhandling as strengths and the humility of being a second-year player, it’s easy to be in a pass-first mindset.

    “Everybody kind of took turns talking to him. But it’s not that he didn’t want to. A lot of times a situation like that where a guy’s got that skillset, it’s a real unselfish quality, right?” coach Dean Evason said. “But I think he gets now that he helps the team a lot when he scores goals.”

    The Wild were confident enough in Boldy’s scoring ability to commit a seven-year, $49 million contract extension to him earlier this winter, after all.

    “I think I’ve always had that mentality, but sometimes you just get into spots and it comes off your stick good,” Boldy said. “When things are going well, the puck goes in the net.”’

    The Wild are 6-1-2 without Kaprizov. Boldy is a big reason why.

    “You go through the slumps, you learn what you need to do to score. I think he’s found a good way to be in the right spot and shoot the puck when he had a good opportunity,” center Joel Eriksson Ek said.

    The Wild have only won one division title in 22 years, the five-team Northwest Division in 2007-08. They’re leading the eight-team Central Division with eight games to go, with both Colorado and Dallas too close for comfort. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2015.

    With Kaprizov due back before the postseason and Boldy on this heater, a Wild team that ranks just 23rd in the league in goals per game (2.93) ought to have a better chance to advance. Eriksson Ek and Marcus Johansson have been ideal linemates for the Boston College product and Massachusetts native.

    Since the Wild entered the league in the 2000-01 season, only five NHL players have had more hat tricks at age 21 or younger than Boldy with three: Patrik Laine (eight), Marian Gaborik (five), Steven Stamkos (five), Alex DeBrincat (four) and Connor McDavid (four). Boldy turns 22 next week, so there’s still time for one or two more.

    “He’s big. He controls the puck a lot. He’s got a good shot, good release. He’s smart. He switches it up. He’s got good moves on breakaways. He’s a total player,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. ”Fun to watch him grow this year.”

    Pezzetta scores shootout winner; Canadiens beat Sabres 4-3

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    Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports

    BUFFALO, N.Y. ⁠— Brendan Gallagher and the Montreal Canadiens rallied back to avoid playoff elimination with less than three weeks left in their season. The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, are running out of chances to stay in the Eastern Conference wild-card hunt.

    Gallagher forced overtime by scoring his 200th career goal, and Michael Pezzetta scored the decisive shootout goal in a 4-3 win over the Sabres on Monday night.

    “It’s one of those things I think we earned that chance. We weren’t fantastic but we did enough on the road tonight to get a win,” Gallagher said. “Smiles all around.”

    The Canadiens could laugh, especially after Pezzetta celebrated his goal by putting his stick between his legs and riding it like a wooden horse — much like former NHL tough guy Dave “Tiger” Williams did during his 14-year NHL career spanning the 1970s and 80s.

    “I’m not sure we’ll see that again. One of a kind,” said Gallagher. “I’d be worried about falling over.”

    Pezzetta scored by driving in from the right circle to beat Eric Comrie inside the far post. Buffalo’s Jack Quinn scored in the fourth shootout round, but was matched by Montreal’s Jesse Ylonen, whose shot from in tight managed to trickle in through Comrie.

    Jordan Harris and Alex Belzile also scored for Montreal, and Jake Allen stopped 30 shots through overtime, while allowing one goal on six shootout attempts.

    Montreal would have been eliminated from playoff contention for a second straight season – and two years removed from reaching the Stanley Cup Final – with any type of loss.

    The Sabres squandered a 3-2 third-period lead to drop to 3-6-3 in their past 12. Buffalo also blew a chance to move to within four points of idle Pittsburgh, which holds the eighth and final playoff spot.

    “Just a little hesitation,” forward JJ Peterka said of the Sabres third-period lapse. “We didn’t play with much energy and we didn’t play that aggressive as we played the two periods before. I think that was the difference.”

    Buffalo’s Lukas Rousek scored a goal and added an assist while filling in for leading scorer Tage Thompson, who did not play due to an upper body injury. Peterka and defenseman Riley Stillman also scored, and Comrie stopped 38 shots through overtime, and allowed two goals on six shootout attempts.

    Montreal blew two one-goal leads to fall behind 3-2 on Stillman’s goal at the 8:31 mark of the second period.

    Gallagher scored on the fly by using Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin as a screen to snap in a shot inside the far left post. With the goal, Gallagher tied Bobby Rousseau for 24th on the Canadiens career scoring list.

    “I liked the way we corrected ourselves, it’s a sign of maturity, in the way we stayed on task,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said, in recalling how the Canadiens recently unraveled in an 8-4 loss two weeks ago to Colorado, which plays a similar up-tempo style as Buffalo.


    The Sabres hosted their third Pride Night, with Russian D Ilya Lyubushkin electing not to participate in warmups by citing an anti-gay Kremlin law and fears of retribution at home in Moscow, where he has family and visits in the offseason. The remainder of the team wore dark blue jerseys with the Sabres logo on the front encircled by a rainbow-colored outline.

    During the first intermission, the Sabres broadcast a video in which GM Kevyn Adams said: “This is about recognizing someone’s humanity and true identity. We know there are people out there struggling with who they are, and we want them to know that they have an ally in the Buffalo Sabres.”


    Canadiens: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.

    Sabres: Host the New York Rangers on Friday night.

    Flyers chairman Scott to retire; Hilferty becomes successor

    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    PHILADELPHIA — Dave Scott will retire as chairman of the Philadelphia Flyers’ parent company Comcast Spectacor and be replaced by Dan Hilferty.

    Hilferty, who was recently named CEO of Comcast Spectacor, will succeed Scott as chairman of the company on April 17 and as the team’s governor on July 1.

    Scott joined Comcast Spectacor in December 2013 and the Flyers have struggled under his reign. They will miss the playoffs for a third straight season and haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1975.

    “Our number one goal for the Flyers will be to consistently compete for the Stanley Cup,” Hilferty said. “It is going to be a process that will take time to get on that path, but I’m confident we are headed in the right direction with Danny Briere as interim GM, Coach Tortorella, and our hiring of a President of Hockey Operations soon. Our leadership team will be fully focused to deliver on this for our fans while also continuing to make the sports complex the best location for sports and entertainment in the nation.”

    As Chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, Hilferty will lead the company’s entire portfolio, including the Philadelphia Flyers. Spectacor Sports and Entertainment CEO Valerie Camillo will continue to work directly with Hilferty, overseeing the Wells Fargo Center, including its continued transformation, and lead the Flyers’ business operations.