NHL playoffs: How the Canadian teams stack up in Round 2

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If we learned one lesson from the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s that this is a wide-open post-season.

It’s any team’s championship to win. This is as close as it gets.

Of the eight opening-round series, three of the lower-seeded teams were the victors. In the West, the eighth-seeded Nashville Predators swept the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks. In the East, the No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs pushed the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals to six games, with five settled in overtime.

Here in Canada, we say goodbye to the Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames and Maple Leafs, and familiarize ourselves with the two remaining Canadian teams —the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators.

Here’s an in-depth look at the second-round series for the Canadian contingent.

Ottawa vs. New York Rangers

Season series: Senators won 2-1-0 (Rangers 1-2-0)

  • Nov. 27 @ New York — Senators 2-0
  • Dec. 27 @ New York — Rangers 4-3
  • April 8 @ Ottawa — Senators 3-1

The skinny: This series will be low scoring. Both teams play patient, defensive-oriented systems … The Senators and Rangers swapped key centres last July, with Ottawa sending Mika Zibanejad to Broadway in exchange for Derick Brassard. Both were impactful in the first round. Zibanejad scored the overtime winner in Game 5 of the Rangers’ six-game series against Montreal, while Brassard continued his outstanding playoff legacy with two goals and eight points to lead the Senators in their six-game win against the Boston Bruins … A big concern for the Senators will be how veteran defenceman Dion Phaneuf will deal with the Rangers’ team speed … A big concern for the Rangers has to be their leading goal scorer, Chris Kreider. Although he helped set up Zibanejad’s winner, Kreider had no goals and only 11 shots on goal against the Habs … Senators captain Erik Karlsson and Joel Lundqvist, the twin brother of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, were briefly teammates with Frolunda HC in Sweden during the 2012-13 lockout season … When Senators associate coach Marc Crawford was fired as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks after the 2005-06 season, his replacement was Alain Vigneault, who was coaching the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Winnipeg … It’s difficult not to pull for the Senators and the feel-good stories of goalie Craig Anderson, whose wife battled a rare form of throat cancer this season, and Clark MacArthur, who successfully returned to action after 18 months on the sidelines with concussion problems.

Player to watch: After an unproductive 13-goal regular season — his lowest output in a non-lockout-shortened regular season — Senators right wing Bobby Ryan has come to play in the playoffs, with four goals, including two game winners, in the first round. Ottawa needs Ryan to continue to produce.

Prediction: Rangers in seven. They have an unrelenting, four-line, grind-it-out mentality that works in the playoffs, plus strong goaltending and speed that can turn a mistake into a goal, and on many occasions a goal is all New York needs with Lundqvist in net.

Anaheim vs. Edmonton

Season series: Oilers win 3-2-0 (Ducks 2-1-2)

  • Nov. 15 @ Anaheim — Ducks 4-1
  • Dec. 3 @ Edmonton — Oilers 3-2 (OT)
  • Jan. 25 @ Anaheim — Oilers 4-0
  • March 22 @ Anaheim — Ducks 4-3
  • April 1 @ Edmonton — Oilers 3-2 (OT)

The skinny: The Ducks are red hot. They finished the regular season with four wins and opened the playoffs with a four-game sweep of the Flames. The last time they suffered a loss was a 3-2 overtime defeat to the Oilers on April 1, when Leon Draisaitl scored 86 seconds into the extra period off a Connor McDavid pass … Draisaitl scored six times in five regular-season outings against the Ducks … When Draisaitl played junior in Prince Albert, his assistant coach was former NHL defenceman Dave Manson. Manson’s son Josh is a Ducks defenceman … Oilers goalie Cam Talbot is showing no signs of slowing down after his league-leading 73 starts and team-record 42 wins. He improved his .919 regular-season save percentage to .927 with two shutouts in the first round … Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf picked up his play in the second half with 11 goals and 44 points in his final 40 games and continued to produce in the playoffs with two goals and five points in four first-round games … The Ducks could get back two of their top defencemen in this series. Cam Fowler has been out with a knee injury and Sami Vatanen suffered an upper-body ailment in the Ducks’ opener against Calgary … Oilers forward Patrick Maroon will have some motivation. The Ducks gave up on him and traded him to Edmonton on Feb 29, 2016. All he did was score six times in 16 playoff games for the Ducks in 2015 … Can Ducks rookie Shea Theodore continue to turn heads after his two goals and five points in the first round? … Theodore, and Edmonton’s McDavid and Darnell Nurse were teammates on Canada’s 2015 gold-medal-winning junior team.

Player to watch: Edmonton second-line centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has to step up. McDavid is going to receive heavy attention from Anaheim’s defensive nuisance Ryan Kesler. Nugent-Hopkins needs to produce to give the Oilers a chance in this series. He led Edmonton with 17 shots on goal in the first round, but was held without a point and had a plus-minus rating of minus-one.

Prediction: Anaheim in six. It’s hard to bet against a team that has Getzlaf and Corey Perry leading the way and has gone a combined 15-0-3 in its last 14 regular-season games and four playoff outings.

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NHL playoffs: How the Canadian teams stack up in Round 2

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