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Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 Preview

Eastern Conference

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A2. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. WC2. Florida Panthers

Maple Leafs in Seven 

With the Boston Bruins season lying in ruins, the door is wide open for the Toronto Maple Leafs. After 19 years of frustration, the Maple Leafs have knocked off the Lightning in six games and are now a favorite. The Panthers, who fell in the second round after winning the President's Trophy last season, are playing with house money after spending most of the season on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. The Panthers won six straight late to get the second Wild Card, then rallied from 3-1 to beat the Bruins after their historic 65-win season. Florida won two games in overtime on Boston's home ice, including Game 7. The weapons for Toronto are plentiful, with John Tavares scoring the overtime clincher in Game 6 at Tampa. It will not be easy, but the Leafs will reach the Eastern Conference Finals in a seven-game battle. 

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M1. Carolina Hurricanes vs. M2. New Jersey Devils

Devils in Six

The New Jersey Devils have arrived. With a roster that is predominately 25 and younger, the Devils, after losing the first two games at home 5-1, rallied to beat the Rangers in seven games. The Devils rode the back of Akira Schmid, who started the final five games and had two shutouts as the Devils beat their arch-rivals. The Devils got nothing from Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Timo Meier and still won the series. Carolina needed six games to beat the Islanders but is hobbled as injuries are piling up. The Hurricanes have been without Andrei Svechnikov since the end of the season, and their offense has struggled. Now they will be without Teuvo Teravainen, who is recovering from a hand injury. Look for the Devils' speed to take control as they win the series in six. 

Western Conference

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P1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. P2. Edmonton Oilers

Oilers in Six

When the Edmonton Oilers are at their best, they are hard to beat. They struggled against the Kings, but after trailing 3-0 in Game 4, with the prospects of falling behind 3-1 in the series, the Oilers have been firing on all cylinders. The 1-2 punch of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is the best offensive punch in the league, finishing first and second in scoring during the regular season. Draisaitl has been impressive in the playoffs, with seven goals in the first round. The Oilers'c Achilles heel is their goaltending, which has held them back for several years. The Golden Knights had a strong series in taking down the Jets in five games, but they do not have the offensive firepower to match the Oilers. This series belongs to the Oilers in six games. 

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C2. Dallas Stars vs. WC1. Seattle Kraken

Stars in Five

The Seattle Kraken, in their second season, have reached the second round, knocking off the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Seattle got strong goaltending from Philipp Grubauer, including a 2-1 thriller against the Avalanche in Game 7. The Kraken had balanced scoring in the first round with 15 different goal scorers. The Stars are riding the back of goalie Jake Ottenger who has the look of a possible hot goalie after allowing one goal in the final two games against the Wild. Ottenger gives Dallas the edge, while the Stars' offense, led by Tyler Seguin and Roope Hintz, can be explosive. This series could be over quickly as the Stars win in five.