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Western Conference Second Round Playoff Preview

The quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup continues tonight as the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs move onto the second round. So far it has been fantastic with underdogs prevailing, overtime aplenty, and excitement that even a non-hockey enthusiast would find impossible to turn away from. In this article, we will take a look at the Western Conference’s final four as the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, and Anaheim Ducks battle it out to see who will be the best of the West and make it to the Stanley Cup Final.

(WC2) Nashville Predators (41-29-12) vs. (3) St. Louis Blues (46-29-7)

Overview: Have you ever seen two bulls charge at one another? Well you will on Wednesday night, as Nashville takes on St. Louis in the second round. The Predators felled Goliath in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs as they swept the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks. This was an incredibly huge upset and was made possible by outstanding net-minding by goaltender Pekka Rinne. The Blues did much of the same and tamed the Minnesota Wild in five games, also with the help of goaltender Jake Allen. What this series promises us is a mystery as these teams have not met in the postseason before. It’s time to make history as these two hungry contenders face off.

Head-to-Head Statistics
Season Series Record: 3-2-0 Nashville
Goals: 15-11 Nashville
Power Play: St. Louis 1/14 – Nashville 4/22

Standout Team Statistics
Nashville: 15th in goals with 220, 13th in shooting percentage at 9.31%, and 24th in penalty minutes.
St. Louis: 3rd in penalty kill, 8th in power play at 21.3%, and 12th in goals for with 233.

Team Leaders (Goals-Assists-Points)
Nashville: Viktor Arvidsson (31 goals) – Ryan Johansen (47 assists & 61 points)
St. Louis: Vladmir Tarasenko (39 goals, 36 assists, & 75 points)

X-Factor For Series

A Tale of Two Goalies

Both Nashville and St. Louis have no problem scoring with the likes of Tarasenko and Arvidsson, but these forwards will have their hands full with each opposing team’s goaltender. From what we saw in the first round, this duel between Allen and Rinne will be a thing of lore. Both goaltenders combined stopped 297 of the 308 shots they faced in the first round, which is disgusting. Rinne has posted a 0.70 GAA with a .976 save percentage while Allen is enjoying a .956 save percentage himself. If these guardians of the net can keep it up, I see this one invoking apoplexy in its viewers, so beware! The only advantage I see favors Nashville as Rinne has left opponents puzzled with his ability to play the puck, which could sway this series in his favor.

Prediction: Predators in six games.

Schedule

Game 1: Wednesday, April 26th – 8:00PM on NBCSN
Game 2: Friday, April 28th – 8:00PM on NBCSN
Game 3: Sunday, April 30th – 3:00PM on NBC
Game 4: Tuesday, May 2nd – 9:30PM on NBCSN
Game 5: Friday, May 5th – TBD (if necessary)
Game 6: Sunday, May 7th – TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Tuesday, May 9th – TBD (if necessary)

(2) Edmonton Oilers (47-26-9) vs. (1) Anaheim Ducks (46-23-13)

Overview: The highest-seeded teams in the Western Conference clash in what I consider the most appealing matchup in the second round. The Oilers won their first playoff series in over a decade and the Ducks are eager to break through the barrier that has impeded them from the Stanley Cup Final. With the tantalizing star that is Connor McDavid and the gritty Ryan Getzlaf in the mix, this series is anyone’s guess. Let’s take a look at the potential of this second round matchup.

Head-to-Head Statistics
Season Series Record: 2-1-2 Anaheim/3-2 Edmonton
Goals: 14-12 Edmonton
Power Play: 4/18 Edmonton – 2/22 Anaheim

Standout Team Statistics
Edmonton: 8th in goals for with 243, 8th in goals against, and 5th in power play with 22.9%.
Anaheim: 3rd in goals against, 29th in penalty minutes, and 4th in penalty kill at 84.7%.

Team Leaders (Goals-Assists-Points)
Edmonton: Connor McDavid (30 goals, 70 assists, & 100 points)
Anaheim: Rickard Rakell (33 goals) – Ryan Getzlaf (58 assists & 73 points)

X-Factor For Series

McDavid vs Getzlaf

There are few matchups in the NHL that are going to be as fun to watch as this one. This captain versus captain gridlock between McDavid and Getzlaf features a young gun meeting an established veteran and will demand that both players take their game to the next level. Getzlaf was an absolute menace in the first round against the Calgary Flames, scoring three goals and collecting five points. He not only provided points, but was a force on the ice as he blocked shots, laid devastating hits, and led the way for his linemates.

McDavid came away with two goals and four points against the San Jose Sharks. We all know that McDavid can dazzle, but can he do so against the Ducks superb checking line led by Ryan Kesler? In my opinion, the Art Ross winner will find a way. In his short tenure in the NHL, we have yet see a combination that could hold him down for long.

Prediction: Edmonton in seven games.

Schedule

Game 1: Wednesday, April 26th – 10:00PM on NBCSN
Game 2: Friday, April 28th – 10:30PM on NBCSN
Game 3: Sunday, April 30th – 7:00PM on NBCSN
Game 4: Wednesday, May 3rd – 10:00PM on NBCSN
Game 5: Friday, May 5th – TBD (if necessary)
Game 6: Sunday, May 7th – TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Wednesday, May 10th – TBD (if necessary)

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