No. 5 Los Angeles Kings vs. No. 6 San Jose Sharks
Regular-season series: Kings won 2-1-1.
The skinny: The Sharks had the lone sweep in the first round, taking out the favored Vancouver Canucks in four very impressive games, as Logan Couture had eight points, Joe Pavelski scored four goals and goalie Antti Niemi continued his brilliant play. But the series opener late Tuesday was their first game since May 7, and momentum is tough to carry over a week later. The Kings, meanwhile, found themselves down 2-0 early in a physical battle against the St. Louis Blues before rattling off four consecutive victories. They’re starting to look like the team that stormed to the Stanley Cup last season.
Prediction: Kings in 7.
No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 7 Ottawa Senators
Regula- season series: Penguins won 3-0.
The skinny: The mighty Penguins looked awfully vulnerable in a six-game series against the upstart Islanders in the first round. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009, looked lost and lost his job to veteran Tomas Vokoun. Offensively, the Penguins were fine, scoring 25 goals in the series. The Senators, meanwhile, were awfully impressive in a five-game elimination of the Montreal Canadiens, holding the Habs to two or fewer goals four times and scoring six twice. Craig Anderson is red-hot in goal, and the Senators are starting to look like the Kings of last season.
Prediction: Senators in 7.
No. 4 Boston Bruins vs. No. 6 New York Rangers
Regular-season series: Rangers won 2-1.
The skinny: A scheduling quirk had these teams meeting three times in the first 11 games of the season, then not again until now. The games were close, with the Rangers’ two victories coming in overtime and a shootout. The Bruins have a lot of mojo on their side right now after their miraculous comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs (they trailed by three goals in the third period of Game 7). But the Rangers have goalie Henrik Lundqvist on their side, and that was all they needed in a seven-game victory against the Washington Capitals. Rick Nash and Brad Richards have to break out eventually, right?
Prediction: Rangers in 6.