Another set of second round matchups premiere Wednesday night.
The first is the much anticipated Battle of Alberta between the Oilers and Flames, a rematch 31 years in the making. It won’t be as violent as that previous famous bout between the Canadian rivals, but the series will still be full of emotions. And with a Tkachuk in the mix... well, anything can happen.
The Oilers boast arguably the best player in the NHL in Connor McDavid, but it’s unknown if their depth — especially on defense — can stand up to the sheer puck possession power the Flames wield. And the Flames have the second highest points getter behind McDavid in Johnny Gaudreau and are expertly coached by a multi-Stanley Cup winning coach, but the team fumbled in the first round against a much lower quality Dallas team, so now there are questions if this Calgary team has the mental fortitude to make it far into the playoffs.
The Hurricanes-Rangers series doesn’t have the history as their neighbors north of the border, but they make up for it in skill. Both teams are full of stars: the Canes have the likes of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teräväinen, Andrei Svechnikov, and Jaccob Slavin while the Rangers are led by Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Adam Fox. Some of the NHL very best will be on display in this series but there are lingering questions from round one for both teams as well.
Like will the ultra deep defense in Carolina prevail? The Bruins top line gave them fits in round one to push them to a game 7. Or will Vezina favorite Igor Shesterkin lead his team to victory? He had a rough start to the playoffs against the Penguins but settled as the first round progressed.
*All times Central