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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Predictions for each 2nd-round series

NHL: Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins
Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs features nearly all of the top teams from the regular season, since upsets were not a thing in the opening round. That could make predicting second-round outcomes even more difficult.

All four division winners, and three of the second-place finishers, each advanced to the second round. The lone exception is the Colorado Avalanche, the third seed in the Central Division who knocked off the second-place Winnipeg Jets in five games.

Related: 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs: schedule, results, TV info for each 2nd-round series

Predictions for 2nd-round series in 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Sportsnaut hockey experts Jim Cerny and Ryan Gagne provide their predictions for each of the four 2nd-round series in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In the first round, Gagne held the edge, predicting six of the eight series correctly. He only missed out with the Jets and Los Angeles Kings. Cerny was 5-3, mistakenly picking the Jets, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers (M1) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (M2)

Jim Cerny (Managing Editor/Lead Hockey Writer): Picking a winner here is not easy. You know what’s more difficult? Picking the loser of this series. That’s how much respect I have for the Rangers and Hurricanes, who each have loaded lineups, highly-regarded coaches, great special teams and been at the top of their games for months. The Brett Pesce and Jesper Fast injuries dig in some to Carolina’s depth, though Pesce is expected back at some point in the series. One Rangers advantage is their ability to strike quickly, perhaps, as former Rangers captain and long-time radio analyst Dave Maloney said last week, not having to work as hard to score goals. The Hurricanes advantage is the relentless pace they play at. You can’t predict puck luck, officiating or injuries ahead of a series, but I do think Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin can be the difference here. Rangers in 7

Ryan Gagne (Staff Writer): The top two teams in the Metropolitan Division will likely go the distance in their second-round series. Each team had relatively easy matchups to begin their quest for the Stanley Cup, but the hard work starts now. If their regular season games indicate what is to come, this series will be close every game, and whoever scores the last goal and makes the last save will win Hurricanes in 7 

Florida Panthers (A1) vs. Boston Bruins (A2)

Gagne: The Panthers were the best team in the Atlantic Division and quickly dispatched the veteran Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round. They now face the Bruins, whom they eliminated in Game 7 last season. Even though it appears to be a mismatch that favors the Panthers, perhaps only Jeremy Swayman can win the series for the Bruins, while the Panthers need to keep playing their game, which got them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2023. Despite the need to avenge their previous defeat, Boston poses no challenge in 2024. Panthers in 6

Cerny: I agree that the Panthers are the better team, not to mention more well-rested after the Bruins had to go to overtime in Game 7 to finish off the Maple Leafs. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say they present no challenge in this series. True, the Bruins goaltending will need to be unreal in this series because the Panthers can beat you in so many different ways, but Florida needs to have a healthy dose of respect for Boston, too. The Sam Bennett injury is a concern for the Panthers, but not one that will alter the result here. Panthers in 6

Western Conference

NHL: Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche
Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (P1) vs. Edmonton Oilers (P2)

Cerny: Let’s start with this: the Canucks swept their season series against the Oilers, 4-0. However, three of those wins came before Kris Knoblauch stepped in as coach and the Oilers turned their season around. Edmonton had one less win and five fewer points than Vancouver and looked terrific in quickly dispatching the Kings in the first round. Connor McDavid (12 points), Leon Draisaitl (10) and Evan Bouchard (nine) were explosive in the first round and Edmonton’s special teams were outstanding (45 percent on power play; 100 percent on penalty kill). The Canucks are on their third-string goalie and stud defenseman Quinn Hughes looks a bit beat up already. Oilers in 6

Gagne: The Oilers easily defeated the Kings, getting a free pass out of the first round. Despite their struggles against the Predators, the Canucks prevailed, thanks to a rookie goalie, and now face a more challenging opponent. Even though many don’t give the Canucks much of a chance, they have the lineup and skills to shut down the Oilers offense and get enough goals past Stuart Skinner. This series winner may be a surprise considering the Oilers’ fanbase believes they got another free pass to the final four—Canucks in 7

Dallas Stars (C1) vs. Colorado Avalanche (C2)

Gagne: The Stars lived up to their billing as the best team in the Western Conference with a thrilling Game 7 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights. Despite having home-ice advantage, they are about to run into the juggernaut Avalanche, who seem unstoppable. Even though many experts expect this to be the best series of the playoffs, this potential shootout will come down to goaltending, and I think that favors Colorado with Alexandar Georgiev over Dallas’ Jake Oettinger. Avalanche in 6

Cerny: This is going to be a great series. Similar to the Rangers-Hurricanes clash, these teams might very well be the best in their conference, and some would argue, the entire League. The Avalanche bounced back from that crazy Game 1 loss to the Jets and made Vezina Trophy favorite Connor Hellebuyck look like an amateur in the process. The Avalanche exploded for 28 goals in five games. Georgiev was better after Game 1, but Oettinger is at least as good, if not better. That, coupled with a stout Stars defense, could be just enough for the Stars to win a back-and-forth series. Stars in 7

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