I'm beyond pumped for the second round tonight and delighted to go off the wall with my predictions for both the four series and for each game.
No analytics for me; just using the top of my head; that's all. In the first round, I had five wins – Rangers, Canes, Flames, Oilers and Panthers. My two losses were Leafs and Wild. I took a bye on Avs-Preds because my boy, Juuse Saros, couldn't play.
Here are my second-round picks:
FLORIDA OVER TAMPA BAY: This Sunshine State classic will go the limit. I see the Cats are super-motivated. Sooner or later the Law of Averages has to catch up with The Champs; as well as attrition. I know I shouldn't bet against two-time title-holders but I will. PANTHERS IN 7.
RANGERS OVER CAROLINA: Antti Raanta is an awfully good goalie but Igor Shesterkin is better and younger. The Blueshirts are resilient and deeper than the Canes. Lots of good battles -- I like Adam Fox vs. Tony DeAngelo. Home ice won't matter. RANGERS IN 5.
EDMONTON OVER CALGARY: The Oil Cans have the best player in the world. Now all they need is half-decent goaltending. Connor McDavid's new sidekick, Evander Kane, is the secret weapon. I love Darryl Sutter's coaching but King McDavid will rule. OILERS IN 5.
ST.LOUIS OVER COLORADO: The Avs never make it into the second round so why should this year be different? They're the Leafs of the West. Close, but no cigar.
Unlike others, I'm not a huge Darcy Kuemper fan. Blues won a Cup with Jordan Binnington; they can win this series with him as well. BLUES IN 7.
TONIGHT: ST.LOUIS 5-4; FLORIDA, 4-2.