Re-thinking first round of 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs after two games

New York Rangers, Vincent Trocheck #16, New Jersey Devils, Vitek Vanecek #41, 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Rangers, Vincent Trocheck #16, New Jersey Devils, Vitek Vanecek #41, 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

We are four nights into the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which means that each of the 16 teams fighting for the Cup has played two games so far.

A series can’t be won or lost in two games, but it can certainly change dramatically. With that said, I’m going to look at the eight first-round series and re-evaluate them now that we’ve got a two-game sample of each.

Before the Stanley Cup Playoffs began, we here at Puck Prose took our best guesses at how these matchups would pan out. Let’s see how much has changed through two games.

How do the Stanley Cup Playoffs look after two games?

Boston Bruins vs Florida Panthers

(Series tied 1-1)

I thought that this series would be a sweep for the best team in NHL regular season history. Instead, the series is shifting to Florida tied at one win apiece.

The Panthers have been the better team so far, which has to be giving some fans flashbacks to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2019 first-round loss. I’m sure the Bruins will figure things out, but It’s not easy to be the top dog, and it’s showing.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning

(Series tied 1-1)

This series has gone about as I would have expected. Yes, both contests have been more lopsided than I anticipated, but this is going to be a back-and-forth series that makes both teams look capable of dominating or being dominated.

Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Islanders

(CAR leads 2-0)

Give the Carolina Hurricanes credit for finding ways to win early in this series. Injuries continue to plague this squad, but they still have a 2-0 series lead.

My original prediction was that the Islanders would win in seven games. While that is still very possible, they have to win Game 3, and they can’t let the Canes dictate the terms of this series.

New Jersey Devils vs New York Rangers

(NYR leads 2-0)

This has easily been the most surprising series so far. The Devils came into their first Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2018 ready to show that they belonged, but to this point, they haven’t. I didn’t think that New York’s advantage in postseason experience would be as evident as it has been so far.

No New Jersey skater has more than one point, while the Rangers have several players performing at record-setting paces. It’s not over until it’s over, but I can’t imagine the Devils making a comeback.

Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets

(Series tied 1-1)

In another series that I thought would be a sweep, the Golden Knights and Jets are heading into Game 3 on even footing. While Winnipeg seems like it could be more difficult to eliminate than I originally thought, this is still the Golden Knights’ series to win.

Edmonton Oilers vs Los Angeles Kings

(Series tied 1-1)

Each of the first two games between the Oilers and Kings saw Edmonton jump all over their rivals early just to be hunted down by LA. On one occasion, Kopitar and company pulled off the complete comeback, and on another, Connor McDavid’s squad got their act together and won.

All that I’ve learned so far is that the Oilers can dominate this series when they’re at their best. Whether or not Edmonton wins this series rides on its performance alone.

Colorado Avalanche vs Seattle Kraken

(Series tied 1-1)

I knew that the Seattle Kraken would be pesky, and they have not disappointed through two games. That group deserves all the credit in the world, but the fact remains that the Avs will ultimately control this series.

As will be the case with Edmonton, Colorado’s play, independent of what Seattle does, will determine the outcome.

Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild

(Series tied 1-1)

I know the idea here is to look at how things have changed after seeing two games, but I need to see a third game in this series before I change my opinion.

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The Wild earned a thrilling win in Game 1, then the Stars answered with a dominant Game 2. Has the momentum made a permanent shift, or can Minnesota answer just like Dallas did? What I do know is that the Wild need a strong showing, win or lose, in Game 3.