The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning are still alive in the Eastern Conference. The Colorado Avalanche, Louis Blues, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers fill out the Western Conference bracket.
We have rivalries in the United States and Canada taking center stage, a team going for a three-peat, and so much more in the second round.
It opens with the Panthers and Lightning playing Game 1 of their best-of-7 series at FLA Live Arena on Tuesday (7 pm ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS), followed by the Avalanche and Blues in Game 1 at Ball Arena. (9:30 pm ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS).
The Hurricanes and Rangers open their series with Game 1 at PNC Arena on Wednesday (7 pm ET; ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS), followed by the Flames and Oilers at Scotiabank Saddledome (9:30 pm ET; ESPN, CBC). , SN, TVAS).
Here are eight storylines to watch in the second round:
The first round was wild, with plenty of offense and comeback wins, just like it was during the regular season.
If the trend continues, the second round should be too.
There were 6.4 goals scored in the 51 games played in the first round, the most in the opening round of the playoffs since 1994-95, when there was an average of 6.8 goals per game.
It was a slight uptick from the 6.3 goals per game that were scored during the regular season, the most since 1995-96 (also 6.3).
The eight teams remaining combined to score 180 goals in 51 games, an average of 3.53 goals per game per team.
There were 19 comeback wins (37.3 percent), including eight in the third period (15.7 percent). The regular season featured 551 comeback wins (42.8 percent), including 220 third-period comeback wins (16.8 percent).
The Rangers had three straight comeback wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins, including the third period in Game 7, after falling 3-1 in the series. The Calgary Flames came back to win Game 7 in overtime against the Dallas Stars.
Video: PIT @ NYR, Gm5: Rangers score 3 in under 3 minutes
Sunshine State Rivalry 2.0
The first-ever playoff series between the Panthers and Lightning began exactly one year ago Monday.
It was the start of a real rivalry fueled by high stakes playoff intensity, way bigger and better than the geographic rivalry they had for so many years, which existed simply because both teams are based in Florida.
Now they ‘re doing it again, and the rivalry will grow to new heights because of it.
The Lightning won the series six games last year to knock out the Panthers and prevent them from winning their first playoff round since 1996. It was Tampa Bay’s fifth straight series win, a streak that is now up to nine for defending the two-time. Stanley Cup champions.
The Panthers ended their playoff drought by defeating the Washington Capitals in the first round of six games. Up next is their opportunity to exact some revenge on the Lightning and end their bid for a third straight championship.
Battle of Alberta is back
The Oilers and Flames played against each other in the playoffs five times from 1983-91. Those are now considered the long-lost glory days of the Battle of Alberta.
One of the best rivalries in the NHL is back in the postseason. Finally.
The Oilers and Flames each arrive in the second round fresh off Game 7 wins. Edmonton won 2-0 against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and Calgary won 3-2 in overtime against the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
Edmonton dominated the Battle of Alberta in the 1980s and early 1990s, winning four of the five series. Three times they went to a Game 7, with the Oilers winning two.
Video: DAL @ CGY, Gm7: Gaudreau scores the Game 7 winner in OT
Second-round star power
There were eight 100-point scorers during the regular season; The Sixers will play in the second round. There were four 50-goal scorers; two remain.
The first round may have weeded out eight quality teams, but the second round is still laden with must-see players throughout the four series, including two of the three players who are the finalists for the Hart Trophy, voted the most valuable player in the NHL. General Chat Chat Lounge
Connor McDavidThe Oilers center and one of the Hart Trophy finalists, led all players with 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in the first round, including a goal and an assist in Game 7 against the Kings.
McDavid led the NHL during the regular season with 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists).
The other Hart finalist is the Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkinwho is coming off three straight wins to help New York come back from 3-1 down in the Penguins in seven games.
He led the league with a 2.07 goals-against average and .935 save percentage (minimum 10 games) during the regular season.
Joining McDavid in the Battle of Alberta series is fellow 100-point scorers Johnny Gaudreau (Flames, 115 points), Leon Draisaitl (Oilers, 110) and Matthew Tkachuk (Flames, 104). Draisaitl scored 55 goals and five in the first round.
Gaudreau led the Flames with eight points (two goals, six assists) in the first round, including the Game 7 overtime goal. Tkachuk scored six points (one goal, five assists). Draisaitl scored nine points (five goals, four assists) for the Oilers against the Kings.
The Sunshine State Rivalry series features the Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau (115 points) and Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (106 points). They were quiet by their standards in the first round, with Huberdeau scoring three points (one goal, two assists) in six games and Stamkos scoring four points (two goals, two assists) in seven games.
Rangers forward Chris Kreider scored 52 goals during the regular season. He scored five during the first round.
Don’t forget about the Avalanche defenseman Cale Makara finalist for the Norris Trophy, who goes to the defenseman voted as the best in the NHL.
He scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in the four-game series sweep against the Nashville Predators after scoring 86 points (28 goals, 58 assists) in 77 games during the regular season.
Video: NSH @ COL, Gm1: Makar goes around to defend
McDavid’s 14 points tied in the first round Claude Giroux (2012), Sidney Crosby (2010), Theo Fleury (1995) and Ron Francis (1995) for the most opening round since Mario Lemieux scored 17 points for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Washington Capitals in 1992.
McDavid also became the first player since Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 to have at least 10 assists in a playoff series.
His production comes on the heels of another Art Ross Trophy-winning season that included seven points (three goals, four assists) in four regular-season games against Calgary.
McDavid is in the second round of the playoffs for the second time in his seven NHL seasons.
Was his first-round production simply the appetizer for the main course that is coming?
Is Shesterkin’s best yet to come?
Shesterkin helped the Rangers get through the second round, but he wasn’t nearly as effective against the Penguins as he was during the regular season.
He finished the series with a 3.66 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. The problem is his regular season was so good that he set the bar high, and expectations are even higher.
But Shesterkin’s best performance in the first round came out of his 79-save effort in a 4-3 triple overtime in Game 1 loss, when he made 39 saves and the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.
He got over getting pulled in Games 3 and 4 for allowing a combined 10 goals on 45 shots to win three straight games with the Rangers facing elimination. He has a playoff experience now, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can carry him to greater heights against the Hurricanes.
Video: PIT @ NYR, Gm 1: Shesterkin stops 79 in OT thriller
Can the Avalanche get over the hump?
The Avalanche are in the same situation as they were last year and are in the second round for the fourth straight season. Maybe this is the year they finally get it out and reach the Western Conference Final.
The Avalanche has to go through the blues to do it. They swept the Blues in the first round last season, just like they did in the Nashville Predators this first round this season.
Colorado came back from down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 against the San Jose Sharks in the 2019 second round only to lose 3-2 in Game 7. The Avalanche were down 3-1 against the Dallas Stars in 2020 and came back to force Game 7 but lost it 5-4 in overtime.
Last year, the Avalanche won the Games 1 and 2 in the second round against the Vegas Golden Knights by a combined 10-3. They lost the next four games by a combined 17-8 and were out in six games.
The Avalanche have not advanced to the conference final since 2002. They have lost in the second round six times since.
This season, though, it’s the Stanley Cup or bust, so the pressure is on.
Hurricanes roster filled with former Rangers
Six Hurricanes players will have some sentimental reasons to beat the Rangers in the second round; goalie Antti Raantadefensemen Brady Skjei, Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smithand forwards Jesper Fast and Derek Stepan all played for New York.
DeAngelo, Smith and Fast played for the Rangers against the Hurricanes in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers in 2020, which Carolina won 3-0. Fast was injured during Game 1 and didn’t play in Games 2 and 3.
Fast signed with Carolina before last season. DeAngelo and Smith are each in their first season with the Hurricanes after being with the Rangers last season. New York traded Skjei to North Carolina 24, 2020. Stepan and Raanta each left the Rangers after the 2016-17 season.
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