Apr 28, 2011, 12:19 AM EDT
Now that the Eastern Conference finally caught up with the West tonight, we finally know which teams will face each other in the second round of the 2011 playoffs. In case you weren’t already aware, the NHL is wise to reward its higher seeds (well, technically it’s a reward) by re-seeding after each round. Let’s get to the matches, with some quick thoughts for your enjoyment.
(Want to know the schedule for the second round games? We’ve got you covered right here.)
Eastern Conference semifinals matchups
1. Washington Capitals vs. 5. Tampa Bay Lightning
Quick thoughts: Much like the Montreal-Boston series, this is a clash between two teams who fought for a division title this season. The Capitals ended up winning the Southeast Division and also the series. (Washington won three times in regulation and once in a shootout, Tampa Bay won once in regulation and once in overtime). Bruce Boudreau’s bunch is well-rested and has home ice advantage, but the Lightning have far less pressure to succeed.
2. Philadelphia Flyers vs. 3. Boston Bruins
Quick thoughts: If you think the Bruins got that elimination game monkey off their backs with that OT win against the Montreal Canadiens, you’re dead wrong. Boston will face question after question (and their fans will see replay after replay) of that collapse from a 3-0 lead against the Flyers in 2010. Then again, maybe the best way to address your demons is by facing them eye-to-eye. They’ll get that opportunity in what should be an intriguing second round series.
Western Conference semifinals matchups
1. Vancouver Canucks vs. 5. Nashville Predators
Quick thoughts: The Canucks once again find themselves with all the pressure to succeed against the underdog Predators. That doesn’t mean that Nashville is likely to play the “happy to be there” role, even if this is their first exposure to the second round of the playoffs. Expect a physical series, especially since the Preds wouldn’t be wise to attempt matching Vancouver’s dangerous offense.
2. San Jose Sharks vs. 3. Detroit Red Wings
Quick thoughts: This is a rematch of their 2010 second round playoff series – a series the Sharks won in five exciting games – but there are a few key differences this year. This time around, San Jose is coming off a challenging six games against the Los Angeles Kings while Detroit quickly swept the Phoenix Coyotes out of the playoffs. The Sharks face some questions in net, which isn’t a great situation to be in considering the Red Wings’ high-powered offense. In other words, it should be an awfully interesting series, especially since the Sharks seem like a more resilient (and deeper) team than they were last year.
- ‘We’re going into the cage,’ says Kings’ coach Sutter about Game 5 0
- Kings stave off elimination, force Game 5 against Sharks 21
- Wild hold off late Avalanche push to even series at 2-2 53
- Bruins scratch out OT win, push Red Wings to brink 42
- WATCH LIVE: San Jose Sharks at L.A. Kings 0
- WATCH LIVE: Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild (Game 4) 5
- Monster of a surprise: Red Wings start Gustavsson over Howard 5
- WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings (Game 4) 2
- Bylsma rips Penguins, calls effort level ‘troubling’ 64
- Cooke: I didn’t intend to collide knee-on-knee with Barrie 99
- Video: Seabrook ejected for charging Backes; will face hearing (update) (153)
- Bad luck strikes twice: Lightning goal waved off, Stamkos takes knee to head (137)
- Keith doesn’t remember if he taunted Backes after Seabrook hit (125)
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind (118)
- Wild’s Cooke offered in-person hearing for knee-on-knee collision with Barrie (111)