After the Calgary Flames pulled off a miracle at home against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series, the rest of professional hockey will be looking at that series the most from here on out.
The Chicago Blackhawks held on late to beat the Minnesota Wild 1-0 in Game 3 of their match up, with little hope left for Minnesota to come back.
On the Eastern side of things, both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals have surprised us with 2-1 leads each against their respective opponents.
With this in mind, here’s how we see the second round finishing out, setting up some epic conference final games on the road ahead:
1. Calgary Will Defeat The Ducks
A home win in Game 3 that took overtime and a game-tying goal with less than twenty seconds left is the kind of hockey that Calgary loves to play.
It’s also the kind of hockey the Ducks hate, because it never turns out good for them.
Now with a Game 4 to be played to see if this will turn into a best-of-three match up, it’s now or never for the Flames to keep history consistent and march toward a Cup Final berth after topping Vancouver in the postseason.
And for the Ducks? The result of this season will unfortunately be all to familiar.
Expect the Flames to wait until Game 7 to knock off Anaheim, though. It’s what they do best.
Prediction: Calgary 4 , Anaheim 3
2. Minnesota Will Push To Game 7, Might Have Enough To Come Back
The Wild proved to be one of the best teams in professional hockey during the latter half of the regular season. Epic wins at home against dynamic rivals and a road winning streak that was unmatched, to say the least, were what the Wild came into the playoffs riding on.
And it’s the same horse they need to saddle if they expect this Chicago series to go anywhere.
After allowing the sole goal in Game 3, it’s clear that the Wild have fixed their defensive woes that were evident in Game 1 and Game 2. All that needs to be worked on heading into what will be four do-or-die elimination games is their offensive consistency.
And if they can get on the scoreboard first, it’ll be the Blackhawks’ biggest weakness.
But until then, it’s only a matter of time before we see Chicago again in the Conference Finals.
Prediction: Chicago 4 , Minnesota 3
3. The Lightning Have Struck
Who would’ve thought Tampa Bay would’ve been this successful against the best team in the East, the Montreal Canadiens?
Oh yeah, nobody.
Heading into Game 4 in Tampa Bay, the Lightning are holding on to a 2-1 series advantage that could extend to 3-1 if their fans kick things back into gear.
After the Detroit Red Wings nearly eliminated Tampa in the first round (it took Tampa Bay all the way to Game 7), the Lightning seem to have never looked back — or better.
And the bad news for everyone else still in the hunt is that this is probably just the beginning.
Strong play in goal by Ben Bishop has been the ultimate x-factor for the Lightning thus far and will continue to prove the cure against Carey Price and what was a once-heavily favored Montreal squad.
I see nothing but sparks flying in the near future.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 4 , Montreal 2
4. The Capitals Are Proving To Be The Best Underdog
After finding a way past the Islanders, the Capitals haven’t had any noticeable issues with the defending Eastern Conference champs in the New York Rangers — at least not yet.
Going into Game 4 with a 2-1 lead of their own, Washington now finds themselves where no one could have expected them to be.
Just two wins from the Conference Finals and six wins from being in a Stanley Cup Final.
Talk about a turn of events.
It turns out that Henrik Lundqvist hasn’t held his own in the second round series, and it’s highly possible that this is the case because he underestimated Washington’s offensive explosiveness.
Now that Alex Ovechkin & Co. have found something they can roll with, expect the Capitals to be the next big thing in playoff hockey.
Prediction: Washington 4 , New York 3