Predictions for Round 2 of the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Round 2 of the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs starts later today, Saturday, May 29th at 5 PM PST with the №3 Boston Bruins facing off against the №4 New York Islanders. Round 1 isn’t quite finished — game six of the the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens takes place at 4:30 PM PST. For that reason, I am going to go through the other three series in round two in the first draft of the article, and then I will update it once we know who wins the Habs-Leafs series.
EDIT: The predictions below now have the Montreal Canadiens v Winnipeg Jets Round 2 series predictions.
Basic criteria for my selections: I analyzed the Pythagorean Theorem for predicting a team’s winning percentage and used whether team’s predicted winning percentage was higher or lower than their actual winning percentage. I also used advanced analytics from sites like Evolving Hockey and Natural Stat Trick to compare teams — in particular, their expected goals for/goals against. I also used some other indicators like regular season series records, how hot a team is, and their playoff experience for each team to come to some conclusions.
Below are my predictions.
№3 Winnipeg Jets vs. №4 Montreal Canadiens
Regular Season Record: 5–3 Jets
Expected Goals For/60 (Jets | Canadiens): 2.18 | 2.32
Expected Goals Against/60 (Jets | Canadiens): 2.47 | 2.06
Wow. The Battle of McDavid and Matthews will not come to be this year — because of these two teams. Instead, it will be the Battle of Hellebuyck and Price. A goalie duel. Hellebuyck and Price have both been playing at ungodly levels of goaltending for their teams. The Jets beat the Canadiens in the regular season matchups, but based on expected goals for each game, it should’ve been a tie. I think the Jets will have a lot more energy and be much more prepared against a Canadiens team that just barely got out of their round. I also think Hellebuyck will continue to put up incredible numbers whereas Price might fall a little. Jets beat the Canadiens in 5 or 6 games.
№3 Boston Bruins vs. №4 New York Islanders
Regular Season Record: 5–3 Islanders
Expected Goals For/60 (Bruins | Islanders): 2.16 | 2.39
Expected Goals Against/60 (Bruins | Islanders): 1.89 | 2.03
The Islanders upset the Penguins in the previous series and beat them in six games after a horrible series of goaltending from Penguins Goalie Tristan Jarry. On the other hand, the Bruins beat the Capitals pretty soundly in five games. The Islanders do have a chance in this series to shock some people (like me), but I think their Cinderella run of sorts comes to an end here with a Bruins team that looks poised to make a serious run at the cup. I think the Islanders would’ve lost the series against the Pens if it wasn’t for Jarry practically giving the series to them. Bruins beat the Islanders in 6 games.
№1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. №3 Tampa Bay Lightning
Regular Season Record: 4–4 Tied
Expected Goals For/60 (Hurricanes | Lightning): 2.74 | 2.33
Expected Goals Against/60 (Hurricanes | Lightning): 2.34 | 2.05
The Lightning beat the Panthers soundly in six games, whereas the Predators gave the Hurricanes some unexpected trouble before they ended up beating them in six games. The Lightning reminded everyone that they are the Stanley Cup defending champions with their last series against the Panthers. I think that the Lightning will be able to ride a likely-Vezina winner in Andrei Vasilevsky to the next round. It’s difficult to trust Alex Nedeljkovic of the Canes to adequately duel Vasilevsky. The Lightning will beat the Canes in 6 games.
№1 Colorado Avalanche vs. №2 Vegas Golden Knights
Regular Season Record: 4–4 Tied
Expected Goals For/60 (Avalanche | Knights): 2.72 | 2.78
Expected Goals Against/60 (Avalanche | Knights): 1.76 | 2.37
It’s a shame that this matchup is happening in round 2 and not, at the very least, round 3 as it likely would in a normal year. Heck, I would take it as a Stanley Cup Final if it were possible. Two of the best teams in the league face off for a Battle of the West. I think the Knights showed that they are mortal in their last series with the Minnesota Wild, but the Avalanche have not yet. Marc-Andre Fleury had a fantastic round 1 whereas Philipp Grubauer has been merely serviceable — that being said, Grubauer only needs to be serviceable given how strong the Avs defense is. I think this is a toss-up given Max Pacioretty’s return to the Knights in game seven and Nazem Kadri’s suspension, which will inevitably hurt the Avs. I still think this year is the year for the Avs, however. Avs beat the Knights in 6 or 7 games.
Let me know what you think of my predictions and what your predictions are! Of course they are just that — predictions, and they could (and probably will) end up very wrong. Guess we’ll have to see!