We’re on to the third round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with just four teams remaining. It’s not necessarily the four teams that people would have predicted a month ago, but it should look familiar to those who followed the bubble playoffs:
Bubble Final 4: @DallasStars @TBLightning @NYIslanders @GoldenKnights— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) June 11, 2021
2021 Final 4: @CanadiensMTL @TBLightning @NYIslanders @GoldenKnights
In addition to playing for a spot in the Final, there are trophies at stake in these series. Previously the NHL had said the traditional conference champions would not be awarded this year. It’s odd that they reneged on that, but with a traditional Metro vs. Atlantic matchup in one series, might as well give them the traditional Eastern Conference trophy.
The #StanleyCup Semifinals are set.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 11, 2021
In addition to a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, the winner of the @GoldenKnights vs. @CanadiensMTL series will claim the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, while the @NYIslanders and @TBLightning will battle for the Prince of Wales Trophy. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/l8tMHf1yaz
Here is the TV schedule:
ISLANDERS VS. LIGHTNING
Game 1: Sun. June 13: Islanders at Lightning, 3 p.m. ET (NBC)
Game 2: Tues. June 15: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Thurs. June 17: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network)
Game 4: Sat. June 19: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network)
*Game 5: Mon. June 21: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
*Game 6: Wed. June 23: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
*Game 7: Fri. June 25: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
CANADIENS VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Game 1: Mon., June 14: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Wed. June 16: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Fri. June 18: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network)
Game 4: Sun. June 20: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
*Game 5: Tues. June 22: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 9 p.m ET (NBCSN)
*Game 6: Thurs. June 24: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network)
*Game 7: Sat. June 26: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 8 p.m ET (NBCSN)
The first series, which begins Sunday afternoon, is the Islanders and Lightning. At first glance you’d expect this to be a contrast of styles, with the Islanders playing lockdown defense and the Lightning having scorers on every line. Instead, the Islanders have actually scored more per game than the Lightning while also allowing more goals. Weird, right? Trade deadline pickup Kyle Palmieri has been huge for New York. He scored just four points in 17 games after being acquired, but already has nine points in 12 playoff games, with one goal each in the final three games against Boston (all wins).
The series may be decided by special teams. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy called the Islanders the “New York Saints” due to the penalty disparity in that series, and I can see why he would be frustrated: when they did go to the box, the Isles PK was successful just 61.6% of the time. They could be be in big trouble against the Lightning, whose PP is converting at an insane 41.7% rate.
The other series, starting on Monday night, looks like a total mismatch on paper. Vegas looked really good as they dispatched the President’s Trophy winner in six games. They were routed in Game 1, but Games 2-4 were all Vegas according to the underlying stats. You would think they’d have a breather against a Montreal Canadiens team that limped into the playoffs, but we’ve seen that a hot goalie can flip the narrative quickly. Carey Price has been outstanding, and the Canadiens are allowing just 2.18 goals per game in the playoffs. They’re also only scoring 2.55, and this Vegas team plays better defense than Toronto and can match Winnipeg’s goaltending.
I say Tampa in six and Vegas in four. What are your predictions?
Who will make the Stanley Cup Final?
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