The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs according to NHL 20 – Second Round
Yesterday would have been the start of the actual Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yet here we are, waiting to see if we’ll ever get the chance to watch this unfold in real life. Luckily, I’m here to take you to an alternate reality where the season was never put on hold and the playoffs are in full swing. That reality is NHL 20.
If you missed out on the results from the first round, go check them out here before reading ahead. Seriously, this could be the only playoff hockey that we get this year, don’t spoil it for yourself. Now that you’re caught up, let’s move on to the second round of action.
Dallas Stars (C3) vs. Nashville Predators (W2)
Both of these teams are feeling confident after strong first rounds. The Stars survived a seven-game series against the Colorado Avalanche, while the Predators sent a message to the hockey world by sweeping the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues.
The key to Nashville’s success in the first round was their goaltending. Pekka Rinne was lights out, but he fell back down to Earth against the Stars. After giving up just three goals in the first round, the Stars found a way to put 21 past Rinne and an additional three past Nashville’s backup Juuse Saros. With his Sv% shrinking down to .912 and GAA jumping to 2.61, Rinne went from outstanding to average, and more often than not, average goaltending isn’t enough to win in the playoffs. The Predators scoring leaders were as to be expected, with Filip Forsberg leading the team with 14 points, followed by Ryan Johansen with 13 and Matt Duchene with 11. Beyond that trio, Nashville’s lack of depth was exposed in the second round, while some players with high expectations failed to produce, namely Kyle Turris with just two points in the playoffs.
While Nashville lacked depth, that’s exactly what the Stars had. Tyler Seguin continued to lead the way, now with 13 points during the playoffs. In addition to him, the Stars have nine players who have scored between seven to nine points through the first two rounds, while no player on the team has fewer than three points. Ben Bishop wasn’t spectacular in this round either. In fact, his numbers got worse compared to the first round, falling to a .918 Sv% and 2.68 GAA. However, when Bishop wasn’t great, his team was there to bail him out, and that proved to be the difference in this series.
Result: Dallas wins series 4-2
Edmonton Oilers (P2) vs. Winnipeg Jets (W1)
The Winnipeg Jets came into the playoffs with some high expectations despite being a Wild Card team and found a way to outlast the Vegas Golden Knights in a seven-game series. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers cruised by the Calgary Flames in a relatively tame five games. Now we’re treated to another all Canadian playoff matchup.
As has been the case all season long, the Oilers were carried by Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. The pair had 16 and 15 points throughout the first two rounds, followed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with 12 and James Neal with 10, including four game-winners. Unfortunately for the Oilers, that’s where the offense began to drop off. Nobody else on the team had more than seven points, and a handful of players were stuck at just one point in the playoffs. For the last few seasons, the Oilers have been a team being carried on the backs of two players, and it showed in the second round. After a strong first round, Mikko Koskinen also saw his level of play dip, finishing the series with a .904 Sv% and 2.86 GAA throughout the playoffs. Neither are awful, but it’s a big difference from his first round numbers.
For the Jets, their top players continued to lead the way. Kyle Connor (15), Mark Scheifele (15), Blake Wheeler (14) and Nikolaj Ehlers (11) all have double-digit points, while Patrik Laine is right behind with nine points to round out the top five. While the Jets scoring has been reliant on their star players, they’ve also gotten scoring from throughout the roster, as every player on the team has now recorded at least one point throughout the playoffs. Sure, one assist from Nathan Beaulieu isn’t much of a contribution, but it’s something. After a tough first round, Connor Hellebuyck showed some signs of improvement in the second round. A .900 Sv% and 3.05 GAA aren’t great, but they’re both higher than the numbers he had at the end of the first round. Will it be enough to keep winning? Not likely, but it was enough to get the Jets to the Western Conference Finals.
Result: Winnipeg wins series 4-2
Boston Bruins (A1) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (A2)
Due to the NHL’s ridiculous playoff format, we get to watch the first-place team take on the fourth-place team… in the second round of the playoffs. These two teams last met in the playoffs two seasons ago, again in the second round, with Tampa Bay coming out on the winning side of that matchup.
The Lightning are being led by an unlikely hero this playoff run, with Alex Killorn being the only player on the team to have reached the double-digit mark in points, with 12 after the second round. Nikita Kucherov is behind him with nine, and Steven Stamkos in third on the team with seven points, but those numbers are well below what we’ve come to expect from that pair. While their scoring leaders might be a bit of a surprise, there is nothing surprising about what’s happening between the pipes for Tampa. Andrei Vasilevskiy continues to be on his game, with a .935 Sv% and 1.94 GAA with two shutouts during the playoffs.
Unfortunately for my Bruins, they ran into a familiar problem. With the first line being shut down, nobody else on the team was able to pick up the slack. After 11 points in five games in the first round, Marchand finished the second round with 14 points in the playoffs. Three points in a series against Tampa Bay just isn’t going to cut it. In fact, each member of that top line for the Bruins only managed to record three points in the series, as David Pastrnak finished with 12 points and Patrice Bergeron with 11. Tuukka Rask’s numbers also took a hit in the second round. After a strong series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Rask finished the series against Tampa with his numbers falling to a .912 Sv% and 2.43 GAA.
Result: Tampa Bay wins series 4-2
Washington Capitals (M1) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (M2)
After sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round, the Capitals are looking to keep that momentum rolling. However, after knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers are looking to prove that they’re a real threat to win the Stanley Cup this year.
The trade deadline move to bring in Ilya Kovalchuk continues to pay off for Washington, as the 37-year-old is showing that there’s still some gas left in the tank. With 11 points, he leads the Capitals in scoring, while Lars Eller (9) and Alex Ovechkin (8) round out the top three scorers for the team. Washington’s star power has given the team the top ranked powerplay in the playoffs, converting on 28.6% of their opportunities, with four of their ten powerplay goals coming from the stick of Ovechkin. Just as impressive, the Capitals penalty kill also ranks first in the league, allowing just two goals against and killing off 93.5% of their penalties. Braden Holtby also found a way to improve on his already impressive first round, increasing his numbers to a ridiculous .951 Sv% and 1.58 GAA.
The Flyers looked promising after the first round, but it all came crashing down against Washington. Leading scorer Travis Konecny only managed two points in the series. The same goes for Claude Giroux, who finished the second round with seven points, while Jakub Voracek only scored one point in the series to also finish the round with seven points. While the series was over rather quickly, the blame can’t be placed on Carter Hart. An impressive .938 Sv% and 1.94 GAA gave the Flyers a shot, and really he was probably the only reason why the team made it past the first round. The Flyers just don’t have the depth and all-around scoring that they needed to match up with the Capitals and it showed.
Result: Washington wins series 4-1
Check back on Tuesday for results from the Conference Finals.