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AC Playoff Prediction Challenge 2015: Round Two

With round one in the books and round two getting off to a rousing start, let's get an update on the scores and take a look at the predictions through round two.

Part of the beauty of playoffs is that nobody really knows exactly what's going to happen. But on that same note some people are certainly better at predicting what might happen through multiple series of up to seven games each than others. That's why we here at Anaheim Calling play this prediction game every year. And with the first round in the books, let's take a look and see how everybody finished through one round.

First, the scoreboard for the Anaheim Calling staff and our guests. Former editor-in-chief and Puck Daddy overlord Jen Neale has in fact returned but just didn't quite get her picks to me in time to make the last post. They are the same as her bracket for the first round. Her scores have been added to this table as well.

Jer (from Battle of California)

85

Jen Neale

80

Liz Brownstein

75

Cory Rosas

75

Ben

70

Chris

70

Kristen

70

EricTheHawk

65

Derek

60

Lois

60

Kyle

30

Ummm...................................

Congratulations to our guests who appear to be far better at this than any of us here on the site staff. Especially me.

As for you, our readers, our top-10 scorers in each round will be posted here after each round. Congratulations to these excellent gurus of predictions!

Allan 'BigFinn' Allison

110

nava22

90

Eric Lamarre

90

Gorbachav5

90

Marty Griffin

85

John Ristuccia

80

therealjasonsiders

80

JC McDonough

75

Daft_

75

Katherine O'Gorman

75

First off, a heartfelt congratulations to the only two people in the entire competition to correctly answer the bonus question correctly, guessing a total of 32 goals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings: Eric Lamarre and Allan 'BigFinn' Allison!

And speaking of the latter, congrats to Allan who leads all entries with a mind-boggling 110 points through just the first round!

Click Here to see a full scoreboard for all readers through the first round.

[Note: In subsequent rounds, updated total top-10 leaderboard will be posted along with an updated overall top-10 score. Rest assured, your points are being kept through all four rounds.]

So now that that's out of the way we're off to round two! Please note that all predictions were submitted before puck drop on round two.

MTL vs. TBL

NYR vs. WSH

CHI vs. MIN

ANA vs. CGY

BONUS

Kyle

Lightning in 7

Rangers in 6

Blackhawks in 6

Ducks in 5

38

Liz

Canadiens in 7

Rangers in 5

Wild in 7

Ducks in 6

19

Ben

Canadiens in 6

Rangers in 6

Blackhawks in 7

Ducks in 5

30

Jer from BoC

Canadiens in 7

Rangers in 6

Blackhawks in 5

Ducks in 6

18

Cory

Lightning in 6

Rangers in 7

Wild in 6

Ducks in 5

12

Chris

Lightning in 5

Rangers in 7

Blackhawks in 6

Ducks in 6

24

Lois

Lightning in 7

Rangers in 6

Blackhawks in 7

Ducks in 5

22

Derek

Lightning in 7

Capitals in 7

Blackhawks in 7

Ducks in 6

41

Eric

Canadiens in 6

Rangers in 7

Wild in 6

Ducks in 6

33

Kristen

Canadiens in 5

Rangers in 7

Blackhawks in 6

Ducks in 6

40

Jen Neale

Canadiens in 6

Capitals in 7

Blackhawks in 7

Ducks in 6

37

This round's bonus question: How many combined power play opportunities will there be in the Chicago Blackhawks - Minnesota Wild series?

Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Montreal Canadiens came within one game of replicating their first-round accomplishment from last season and getting their second quarter-finals sweep in a row, this time vs. the Ottawa Senators. However, those pesky Sens proved why they got to where they did and pushed back, saving themselves from elimination twice before finally succumbing to their fate, giving the Habs a six-game series victory. Their reward? A rematch with the very team they swept last year: the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bolts had a much more difficult time in their series. Facing an ever-resilient Detroit Red Wings team, one of the East's most potent offenses was shut down almost entirely. Perennial Rocket Richard favorite Steven Stamkos was held goalless through the entire series. However, thanks to some heroics from Brayden Coburn, the Bolts managed to squeak out a win in game seven at home and move on to the next round. This time around, the Lightning have the pre-series momentum, as they did not lose to the Montreal Canadiens this season.

-"I'm still not a firm believer in the Habs, but seeing how the Lightning were stifled by the Wings and how good Carey Price was in round one, I think they'll give the Bolts a little more trouble than they should." - Kyle
-"Bolts struggles of youth plus Stamkos' ghost-act against Red Wings has me spooked; if Mrazek was that big a test, imagine Price, especially with Habs having more playoff experience." - Eric

-"Tampa swept the season series on Montreal, outscoring them 21-8." - Chris

New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals

The New York Rangers took care of business in a pretty convincing five-game fashion over the Pittsburgh Penguins... or so it would seem. If you look a little closer, every single one of New York's four wins came by a 2-1 score, with two of them coming in overtime. So the injury-depleted and in many ways sliding Penguins actually gave the Rangers all they could handle for the most part. But that series ended a while ago so you'd have to imagine they've had time to right the ship.

Their opponent in the second round is a familiar one with which they've had some recent playoff history: the Washington Capitals. The Caps, like the Bolts, are coming off a brutal seven-game series. Only theirs was fast, physical, dramatic, full of bad blood, and featured an extremely dramatic series-winning goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Capitals have been in full-blown playoff mode for two weeks now and have shown some remarkable improvements to their defensive play in front of a more-seasoned Braden Holtby, proving to a lot of people they're just as good as their record shows.

-"Barry Trotz can't put his neck on the line because he doesn't have one." - Jer
-"Alex Ovechkin gets all the love when it's goaltender Braden Holtby holding it all together." - Jen
-"Offense, defense, goaltending, coaching...there aren't many gaps the Rangers are leaving for the Capitals." - Lois

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild

The Chicago Blackhawks won yet another playoff series, this time defeating the Nashville Predators in six games that were wild, whacky, full of goals, dramatic, and in many ways all kinds of rip-snortin' fun. However, these games were in many other ways very uncharacteristic of this normally playoff-dominant Blackhawks. Their defense looked shaky. Playoff starter Corey Crawford lost his job to backup Scott Darling, only to win it back again in game six. And likewise the Hawks defense looked downright porous at times, leaving their poor goaltender out to dry against a pretty adept offensive team in the Preds. Nonetheless, they are still the Blackhawks and they found a way to squeak through with another late goal and get by the Preds on United Center ice.

For the third consecutive season they'll face the Minnesota Wild. Last season the Wild only managed to win one game in the series, and even though they gave the Hawks fits at times, there wasn't much really that we didn't expect in terms of series results. This season is a different story. The Wild are one of the league's hottest teams and are coming off a downright dominant performance against a St. Louis Blues team that many people had as their favorite for either a Stanley Cup or at least a Final berth. It wasn't an easy series, but Minnesota demonstrated an ability to almost entirely shut down a dynamic offensive team with excellent puck possession statistics, and this time they've got a goaltender to back them up when shots do get through. Devan Dubnyk looked excellent through the first series. Let's see if he can hang on through round two.

-"Never bet against Chicago!" - Kristen
-"The Chicago goalie toss up bites them in the ass and Minny pulls off the upset." - Liz
-"The Wild do so poorly that their outdoor game is taken away." - Jer

Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames

The Anaheim Ducks were the only team of the first round to sweep their opponents out, making quick work of the heavy, physical Winnipeg Jets and forcing the franchise to wait yet another year to try to earn its first playoff win. The Ducks didn't lead for a whole lot of the series, and in fact had to come back in the third period to win three of the four games. But the scary part is that for almost no portion of that time did the Ducks look like they were floundering or struggling. It almost appeared as though it was their game plan. Even in the crazy-loud atmosphere of the MTS Centre, the Ducks looked calm, collected, and controlled, and they took care of business.

They'll move on to face a Calgary Flames team that continues to ride this wonderful Cinderella story. Expected by many to be a contender for Connor McDavid at this year's draft lottery, the Flames refused to quit on nearly any game and pushed themselves all the way to a Stanley Cup Playoff berth by nature of a huge late-season win over the Los Angeles Kings. Their reward? A matchup with a Vancouver Canucks team that was nowhere near as good as its record said and likewise bowed out of the playoffs pretty lazily. The six games in that series were physical, hatred filled, and featured some pretty lackluster goaltending on both ends, but it was the lower-seeded Flames who conquered and pushed themselves unbelievably to the second round. The big question for them is, however, will that magical carriage they've been speeding along in this season finally turn back into a pumpkin against a Ducks team that has demonstrated why they're the number-one seed in the Western Conference?

-"A friendly word of advice to any team trying to pull a playoff upset: make sure the team who has home ice advantage over you doesn't beat you in their barn literally every single time you play there in, say, a 10-year span. Every. Single. Time." - Ben
-"During the first two periods of each game, both teams will try to score as many own goals as possible because neither team wants to enter the third with a lead." - Derek
-"I'm pretty sure there's already a shooter-tutor with a five-hole the size of a barrel set up in the Ducks practice net to prepare them for facing Jonas Hiller." - Kyle