No. 1 N.Y. Rangers (51-24-7-109 pts) vs. No. 7 Washington Capitals (42-32-8-92 pts)
1. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has become one of the most intriguing individual stories from the first round. With only 16 games of playoff experience (seven in junior and nine in the AHL), the 22-year-old from Lloydminster, Sask. was fantastic in his first foray into the Stanley Cup playoffs in knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. Holtby was the busiest goalie in the first round - he faced 248 shots - but pulled off the upset. Can he do it again?
2. The shot-blocking Rangers had difficulty scoring in their first-round series against the Ottawa Senators. Marian Gaborik finished the regular season with 41 goals, third best in the league. But he scored only once against Ottawa, way back in the series opener. He finished with just 13 shots on goal and needs to get his act together against the Capitals.
3. This will be the third time in four years the Capitals and Rangers have met in the playoffs. The Capitals won the previous two meetings, but with a firewagon style of play. Can they stay patient, stay disciplined and win enough close games? The Capitals, at 2.29 goals per game, and the Rangers (2.00) were the two lowest scoring teams in the first round to advance.
Season series: Tied 2-2-0
Nov. 25 - Rangers 6-3 at Washington
Dec. 28 - Capitals 4-1 at Washington
Feb. 12 - Rangers 3-2 at New York
April 7 - Capitals 4-1 at New York
Prediction: Rangers in seven.
No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers (47-26-9-103 pts) vs. No. 6 New Jersey Devils (48-28-6-102 pts)
1. Claude Giroux and the Flyers have been the last bastion of offensive hockey remaining among the eight teams that have advanced to the second round. Of the top seven highest scoring teams in the regular season, only the Flyers have survived. Pittsburgh, Boston, Vancouver, Ottawa, Detroit and Chicago are all gone. Philadelphia finished the regular season third in the NHL in goals scored at 264 and piled on 30 more in its six-game win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.
2. After missing most of the regular season because of his troublesome Achilles heel, Travis Zajac found his form in the first round. He scored three times and set up three more in the Devils' seven-game series win over the Florida Panthers. Zajac will have to continue to perform at a high level if New Jersey has designs on knocking off the Flyers.
3. How will enigmatic Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov hold up? Yes, he was good enough to win four games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but among the eight starting goalies who have advanced his save percentage is way, way down there. Take a look: Jonathan Quick (.953), Mike Smith (.950), Brian Elliott (.949), Henrik Lundqvist (.945), Pekka Rinne (.944), Braden Holtby (.940), Martin Brodeur (.922) and Bryzgalov (.871).
Season series: Flyers 3-2-1
Oct. 8 - Flyers 3-0 at New Jersey
Nov. 3 - Devils 4-3 (SO) at Philadelphia
Jan. 21 - Flyers 4-1 at New Jersey
Feb. 11 - Devils 6-4 at Philadelphia
March 11 - Devils 4-1 at New Jersey
March 13 - Flyers 3-0 at Philadelphia
Prediction: Flyers in six
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