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Stanley Cup Playoff Headlines: Panthers/Lightning, Blues/Avalanche Start Round 2

The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs begins on Tuesday with two good matchups. Here's what you need to know about the Panthers vs. Lightning and Blues vs. Avalanche.
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The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs begins on Tuesday with two good matchups. Here's what you need to know about the Panthers vs. Lightning and Blues vs. Avalanche.

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Is this the REAL top series to watch?

The Battle of Alberta is the one that everyone is talking about, and rightfully so. It's going to be a bloodbath and one that fans of any team can get themselves excited about.

But look at Florida and Tampa, two of the best teams all season long. Florida is fresh off of a Presidents' Trophy win, while the Lightning have won back-to-back Stanley Cups. From a pure depth and skill perspective, these are two of the deepest teams remaining, and probably the closest on paper in terms of overall talent.

This is the time for the Panthers to beat the Lightning twice in a row, something no team has done in the playoffs the past three seasons. Tampa's ability to bounce back quickly and consistently has made them so tough to beat.

But Florida also got to the second round despite quiet performances from Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett and Anthony Duclair, among others. The team's depth stood up, and that's one of the strengths of this lineup. If Florida gets its biggest stars moving, this group might truly be too tough to contain.

Regardless, this is going to be an insane series to watch.

Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues

Will Colorado's rest hurt them?

The Colorado Avalanche had a seven-day layoff from its Game 4 sweep of the Nashville Predators. The St. Louis Blues? They played four days ago.

That's not a huge difference, but a week away from competitive hockey can be a challenge for a team to stay mentally and physically ready for a new round. We know the Blues are no tough opponent, and the Avalanche are definitely the favorite here, but 

Thankfully, the Avalanche have a healthy roster and we saw how they rolled through the first round. They're going to want to make quick work and not allow the Blues to get back into it. The extra rest, mixed with the healthy group, should give them the edge.

That being said, if the Blues score early and force the Avs the chase, that could put St. Louis in a good spot. Jordan Binnington played well against Minnesota and the Blues blueline managed to shut things down despite missing some key personnel.

This series might not have the hype of the two major rivalry matchups, but this has true underrated potential.

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