NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 10: Andrew Copp #9, and Connor Hellebuyck #37 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrate with their teammates after a 5-1 Jets Victory in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 10, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The second round of the playoffs proved to be much more exciting than the first with the matchups we all wanted. But that is all ancient history in the fast-moving world of sports. Let’s take a look at round three of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Round Three of The Stanley Cup Playoffs

It’s official, we will see a Stanley Cup winner that is not The La Kings, The Chicago Blackhawks or the Pittsburgh Penguins for only the second time in 9 years. The matchups might not be as exciting as round two but it can’t be denied the better teams will be facing each other. With only 8 more wins needed to win the Stanley Cup, we are getting to the good stuff.

Tampa Bay Lightning Vs. Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals

They did it, no one thought they would do it, but the Caps did it. For the first time in 20 years, the Capitals will advance to the Eastern Conference finals. On the flip side, The Pittsburgh Penguins will not be three-peating. The Capitals have been a “perpetual contender” for years, much like the Sharks. They are a good team, they make the playoffs regularly and are a team to fear, but never seem to be able to finish the job. This year they have a quiet confidence, no pressure and no expectations of them and that could be largely why they made it as far as they have. Could they keep the streak alive? They are basically playing on house money here as they have already overachieved.

The Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay has been a team to fear all year and they only seem to be getting scarier. For the third time in four seasons, they will be going to the conference finals. In the series against Boston, we got to see truly how much scoring depth their front end has. Tampa Scored 17 goals in 5 games and 11 different players scored goals. The Bolts also showed the NHL that they aren’t just a scoring threat, they are also a physical threat. Tampa reminded the Bruins that they aren’t only fast, but they are big. Though Boston got the early jump on Tampa, they couldn’t build on that moving forward. In game one The Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak line got a combined 11 points. In the next four games, they were held to a combined 12.

Who Takes it?

Washington will be riding a high that Ovechkin has never felt in his NHL career going into round 3. Tampa will be well rested having played only 10 games. I suspect Washington will get an early jump on Tampa. But I predict they will come back and take the Caps in 6.

The Vegas Golden Knights Vs. The Winnipeg Jets

The Vegas Golden Knights

They say the house always wins, and The Golden Knights seem to have made the NHL their house. The Golden Misfits’ story just keeps going. The Golden Knights knocked the Sharks out in 6 games. Marc-Andre Fleury has been almost inhuman in net this postseason with a .951 SV% and a 1.53 GAA. If Fleury keeps this up he could be looking at his third consecutive Stanley Cup. The Golden Knights are coming into the third round having played only 10 games. Vegas has finished walking through the Pacific Division and now will face the Central Division champs. The Pacific is undeniably weaker than the other divisions so this matchup will be another test, and another chance to hush the nay-sayers. They are fresh, fast and feisty and it’s getting harder and harder to bet against them.

The Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg might not be breaking records like Vegas, but they are hitting new milestones as a franchise. For the first time as a franchise, they are hitting the Western Conference Finals. The Winnipeg Jets took advantage of the very hot and cold Pekke Renne and forced him to the bench mid-first period of game 7. Pekke let in 2 weak goals and in an attempt to stay in the game was pulled before more damage was done. The Jets went on to put in 3 more goals. Winnipeg’s fans have been incredible and just like Vegas, are experiencing this for the first time. The Winnipeg, Nashville series was very back and forth with many one-sided games for both teams. It was the matchup that fans wanted and the outcome Canada wanted.

Who Takes it?

It’s hard to bet against either of these teams. Winnipeg is rolling with some great depth and some star power on their team. They have a big defense that has been doing well, but the (currently) weaker of the 2 goalies. Vegas, on the other hand, is known for their depth and ability to roll four lines. Fleury is playing the best hockey of his career and is showing no signs of slowing down. Due to the more consistent play of Vegas and Flower backstopping the team, I think Vegas will take this in a very close and long match up. Vegas takes this in 7.

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