Yahoo Sports’ NHL Playoff Picks, Round 2!

Puck Daddy
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, right, checks Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, center, against Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and the net during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Washington. The Capitals won 3-2. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Capitals beat Penguins in possible first-round preview

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, right, checks Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, center, against Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and the net during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Washington. The Capitals won 3-2. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The NHL had some premature congratulations for the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders, as the second round started before the first round was finished. 

So we locked in our picks for that series while waiting to see if the Anaheim Ducks or Nashville Predators would advance. (Spoiler: It was a Game 7, so you fill in the blank.)

Now, here are the picks for the rest of the second round series, as the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Washington Capitals; the Dallas Stars face the St. Louis Blues; and the San Jose Sharks face the Nashville Predators.

And here … we … go.

Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy Editor

Penguins in 7

You could basically flip a coin for these Round 2 series and come up with a prediction that wouldn't be too crazy. 

Pens-Caps? Alex Ovechkin and Barry Trotz are long overdue to get out of the first round. But with the way the Penguins have been playing in the second half and with the fact that Matt Murray has kept their goaltending situation stable as Marc-Andre Fleury recovers from a concussion, it's tough not to see them continuing this run.

Blues in 7

Blues-Stars? St. Louis just finished off an emotional series win and face a Dallas offense -- while lacking Tyler Seguin for the near future -- that is dangerous. The series will probably come down to goaltender where the Brian Elliott will get an edge over Kari Lehtonen first, and potentially Antti Niemi later in the series.

Sharks in 6

Sharks-Preds? This one might be a tad easier to predict, but with the way Pekke Rinne is playing and the balanced scoring Nashville is supplying, it's tough to make this an easy out for the Sharks. But much like the Blues and Islanders, San Jose exorcised a playoff demon and looked like a well-oiled machine in Round 1. How will the Preds find a way to slow down Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and crew?

Josh Cooper, Puck Daddy Editor

Capitals in 6

The Capitals are the most talented left in the NHL playoffs. They can beat you so many ways and I think this is enough to overcome the Penguins’ star players in what should be the best series of the second-round.

So much publicity goes to Alex Ovechkin and Washington’s powerful offense, but  the Capitals are also one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. Their ability to marginalize Pittsburgh’s powerful attack will be the difference. Past Capitals teams didn’t have gritty two-way players on the blueline like John Carlson and Matt Niskanen. And they didn’t have playoff-tested all-around players at forward like Justin Williams.

Stars in 6

Dallas captain Jamie Benn will be the driving force for the Stars in the second-round. He’s a matchup nightmare for teams and tough to stop both on the wall and in open ice. The Blues don’t have a player with the all-around talents of Benn, and he’ll be the biggest difference-maker in this series.

The Blues climbed a major mountain in beating the Chicago Blackhawks in the first-round, but Chicago isn’t as deep as the Stars. Dallas developed a strong defensive identity near the end of the season, and I think their balance of speed and size will be too much for the Blues to handle.  

Sharks in 6

The Sharks are arguably the deepest team left in the Western Conference. They can roll four lines and three defense pairs and when they get on the power play, it’s almost an automatic goal. The Predators did a nice job beating the Anaheim Ducks in seven games, but the Sharks are a motivated group that’s playing the right type of playoff hockey.

The line of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl will get a heavy dose of Shea Weber and Roman Josi, which will open up Logan Couture’s trio on the second-line to have a big series. Pekka Rinne will keep the Predators stable, but it just feels like a special year is brewing for the Sharks.

Jen Neale, Puck Daddy Editor

Capitals in 7

This series is going to come down to goaltending. Matt Murray may be able to steal a couple games for the Penguins; however, Braden Holtby continues to be a beast. All he needs is the run support in front of him, something surprisingly lacking in this first round.

Blues in 6

I don't trust Dallas's goaltending tandem, and the series against Minnesota showed why. Said it the first round: it doesn't matter if you can score a million goals when your goalie can't stop a million and one. Plus the Blues have finally accepted Brian Elliott as their goaltender and savior. He's coming up huge for them.

San Jose in 6

Pekka Rinne is holding the Predators together. They have a couple dangerous forwards and two extremely talented defensemen. San Jose has the size and skill to exploit everything the Ducks couldn't.

Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy Columnist

Penguins in 7

These are the two best teams remaining in the East by a good distance, and it's going to be a slugfest. The way Pittsburgh has played since Mike Sullivan took over is still only just enough to convince me they can dispatch the Capitals by the slimmest of margins.

Both are teams that can go strength-against-strength with anyone in the league and expect to come out on top, so for all intents and purposes I think we may as well consider this the unofficial Eastern Conference Final. I'm pumped for every second of this series.

Blues in 7

The amount I trust Dallas's goaltending against anyone is very small, and while the Blues obviously don't have the knockout punchers in a quality or quantity that can match Dallas, I also fear for what Vladimir Tarasenko is going to do to Antti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen in this series. 

There's a legitimate possibility things get very ugly, hockeywise. Meaning coaches probably won't be happy with how their clubs play. This feels like a series with a lot of 4-3 games.

In the end, because the Stars struggled with the Wild — as deeply mediocre a team as there was in the league this year — I have to give the edge to St. Louis.

Sharks in 6

I love the Sharks and I want them to win. If they can crush the Kings in five games, the Predators, for as good as they have been and as well-coached as they will continue to be, don't look like a particularly significant threat.

San Jose Sharks' Joe Pavelski, right, and Joe Thornton (19) are congratulated after Pavelski's goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Jose Sharks' Joe Pavelski, right, and Joe Thornton (19) are congratulated after Pavelski's goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Puck Daddy Fantasy Writer

Capitals in 7

The Caps-Pens series is the toughest one to call. It's this round's version of Chicago-St. Louis. The irresistible force versus the immovable object. The hottest team in the league versus the best team in the league. The only - and I mean only - reason I pick Washington here is because I picked them to win the Cup. I'll just stand pat with that pick and pretend I knew it all along if it works out.

Blues in 6

While the Blues have faced disappointment year after year and frankly they're scared shitless of getting eliminated early again. You saw that in the Chicago series - the desperation. This Dallas team hasn't had those lessons yet.

San Jose in 5

San Jose is another team built for the playoffs. The road record says it all.

Sam McCaig, NHL Editor, Yahoo Sports

Penguins in 7

Finally, seven long years after their previous playoff clash, we get to see another showdown between Evgeni Malkin and Nicklas Backstrom ... and, yeah, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are expected to play, too. It goes without saying that this will be the most highly anticipated and most-watched matchup of the 2016 playoffs. Crosby and Ovechkin are 10 years into the careers, and while other star-player-vs.-star-player rivalries have come and gone, theirs remains the NHL's most compelling. All signs point to Washington winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup this season, an explosive offensive team that has enviable depth up front as well as a solid defense corps in front of likely Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby. Washington ran away with the Presidents' Trophy this season, and they've got Barry Trotz behind the bench. Yet ... well, we picked the Penguins to make the Cup final at the start of the season, and we're sticking with that prediction.

To come true, third-stringer Matt Murray will have to beat Holtby after beating Henrik Lundqvist in the first round. Crosby and Malkin & Co. will have to outdo Ovechkin and Backstrom & Co. While the Caps' supporting cast deservedly gets praised for its contribution this season, the Penguins' role players were a huge part of Pittsburgh's surge in the final weeks of the regular season. So, Penguins in seven, but what we really want to see is a series that lives up to the sky-high hype.

Blues in 5

St. Louis has a game-breaker in Vladimir Tarasenko, scoring depth, great defense and goaltending, they're fast and physical -- and they finally finally finally beat the Blackhawks.

Like Washington, they're a respected longtime NHL franchise that has never won the Stanley Cup. Unlike Washington, they were my Stanley Cup pick at the start of the season and -- like Pittsburgh -- we're sticking with them. Dallas, the Western Conference regular-season champion, has game-breakers and scoring depth, but perhaps some holes in the defensive end and in the crease. Tyler Seguin is injured, he'll likely be back at some point in Round 2, but he won't be 100 percent. St. Louis, for so long a playoff sob story, is in a great position to roll through to the West final and remains my pick for the Cup. So, Blues in five, and they'll keep going from there.

Sharks in 6

How about perpetual playoff disappointment San Jose versus perpetual playoff disappointment St. Louis in the West final, with the winner finally finally finally getting a chance to play for the Cup? It has to happen, right? When the Sharks look good -- as they very often did in knocking out rival L.A. in five games in Round 1 -- they're impossible to stop, even if you have Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber and Roman Josi and Nashville's defensive wherewithal.

Not to mention, have you seen Joe Thornton and Brent Burns' beards? They're a wonder of the hockey world, and they must be allowed to continue their playoff quest. So, Sharks in six, and playoff beards forever.

Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy Editor

East: 

West:

The picks, for the video impaired: 

Penguins in 7

Blues in 6

Sharks in 5

The Penguins will win in Game 7, with Matt Murray stopping Alex Ovechkin on a breakaway and Justin Williams skating to a minus-2. The Blues will find they already did the offensive heavy-lifting against the Blackhawks and will find the Stars’ defense more accommodating. The Sharks have too much up the middle for the Predators to handle, and aren’t going to give them the breaks that the Ducks did.

Blues and Sharks, for the right to play for the Stanley Cup. Mind? Blown.

Again, check out our Lightning/Islanders picks here.

What to Read Next