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NHL 2018-19 Western Conference 2nd Round Preview

After one of the most bizarre opening rounds in NHL playoff history, the path to the cup has been blown open.

Some of the biggest favorites— Tampa Bay, Vegas, Calgary— were beaten early. They combined for four wins.

Dallas Stars vs St Louis Blues

With the first Western Conference series of round two, the Stars and Blues played to a 3-2 finish in Game 1. Binnington and the Blues led 3-1 until a late powerplay goal by captain Jamie Benn brought Dallas within one, but it wasn’t enough.

The rest of the series looks to be tight— Dallas led in shot totals 29 to 20– but the Blues have been unstoppable since hitting last place January 3rd.

Stars coach Jim Montgomery admitted that Dallas must be harder on the Blues’ top players. Tarasenko scored twice in the opener.

While Dallas has a more explosive top line of Benn, Seguin, and Radulov, St. Louis can counter with a Selke caliber center in Ryan O’Reilly to help stifle the attack.

Dallas defensemen John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen  could also mean trouble for St. Louis, but Binnington has flat out refused to lose games.

Not to be forgotten, Vezina finalist Ben Bishop has been a brick wall in net. He was at a .954 save percentage over the last 20 games.

Despite Bishop’s goaltending, and Micah McCurdy’s model, Tarasenko and St. Louis will take the series in seven games.

Colorado Avalanche vs San Jose Sharks

The Sharks will be without their captain, Joe Pavelski, who left Game 7 after a gruesome injury that gave the Sharks the major penalty they needed.

On paper, San Jose was a good bet to take home the cup. Erik Karlsson, Marc-Eduard Vlasic, and Norris trophy finalist Brent Burns run a talented blue line.

The Sharks center crew will have their work cut out for them to offset the loss of Pavelski.

In Colorado, the Avalanche come rested after swiftly sending home the Pacific Division winning Flames in just five games. Everyone doubted their depth— as they should have.

However, some shaky goaltending in round 1 by San Jose makes this interesting.

As per Round 1, Nathan MacKinnon proved they don’t need much help to win. He and Mikko Rantanen combined for 17 points.

A less confident prediction: Avalanche in 7. They will move on to St. Louis next round.

With four wild-card teams out of the eight remaining, there’s no result that would be a real surprise. After Tampa’s devastation, favorites don’t exist anymore.

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