Spilko's NHL Playoffs 2nd Round Series Picks: Lightning vs Panthers in battle of Florida, Blues vs Avalanche
The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers both advanced to the second round of the NHL postseason to improve my series selections to 2-0. With four separate matchups upcoming, here are my favorite two picks for the second round.
Second Round: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers just barely escaped their series with the Washington Capitals and they have drawn a series matchup with an in-state rival. The Panthers will have home-ice advantage and will look to get revenge on Tampa Bay after falling to the Lightning in six games in the first round a season ago.
Florida had to claw back against Washington, while Tampa Bay had to fight for its season on the road against a Toronto team that certainly didn’t lack fight or talent. The Lightning were the much more impressive squad in the first round in my opinion, and even though Brayden Point’s expected absence in the early portion of the series should hurt, there’s no reason to pass on the underdog value given to Tampa Bay.
Last year’s series between these two rivals produced a grand total of 41 goals and this might be the most entertaining series of the second round. Once again, it’s time to back the back-to-back champions until they prove otherwise.
The pick: Tampa Bay Lightning to win the series (+130)
Second Round: St. Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche
Make no mistake, I believe that the Colorado Avalanche are still the no-brainer team to beat in the Western Conference. But the value you’ll get by taking St. Louis’ series spread is too enticing to pass up.
The Colorado Avalanche catapulted the Juuse Saros-less Nashville Predators from the postseason in a swift four games. That was expected. The real surprise in the Western Conference came out of the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild series.
Minnesota was no slouch of a first-round opponent for St. Louis. The Wild had home-ice and finished the regular season with the fifth-most wins in the NHL. The Blues shocked the Wild even after going down 2-1 in the series, winning Games 4, 5 and 6 all by three goals or more to advance to secure a seven-game dance with the Avalanche. St. Louis will inevitably need offense to keep up with Colorado, but that might not be an issue after scoring at least four goals in all but two games in the first-round series with Minnesota.
The Blues’ momentum after beating a strong Wild team is real and it wouldn’t be surprising to see this series against Colorado go at least six games.
The pick: St. Louis Blues +2.5 games in the series (-155)
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