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2017 NHL Stanley Cup Predictions: Capitals, Rangers Favorites To Advance in East

NHL: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Predictions aren’t a science, there is a bit of an art to them. This art I would classify as an abstract, as there don’t seem to be many clear winners in the Eastern Conference second round. Are you rooting for a back-to-back Stanley Cup champion or do you think Alex Ovechkin will put his lips to the Holy Grail finally this year?

New York Rangers vs Ottawa Senators

Taylor: Henrik Lundqvist is looking good, and that defense in front of him is doing him lots of favors. Rangers in 6.

Erin: Clearly I nailed this matchup in the second round, so I feel super confident in picking the team with the better goaltending over the least-objectionable Canadian team left. Rangers in 6.

Robert: Let's remember that the NHL chose a playoff format that lets one of these harmless civilians advance to the conference final. Anyway, I love me some Craig Anderson, and Erik Karlsson is a beautiful child of Mercury. Senators in 4.

Ann: Look I didn't even see either of these teams making it out of the first round so this is weird for me. Hank can't possibly strong arm this team any further, I'm pretty sure. Erik Karlsson at least is able to use the whole ice surface. Senators in 7.

Wes: The Cinderfella run continues. Montreal wasn't good enough to expose the Rangers backline, but Ottawa might be. Karlsson's foot is going to be THE storyline, but if he can manage at least as well as he did in round one, the Sens will advance. Senators in 7.

David: I expected the Rangers to fall to Montreal with ease, and Ottawa has come out of an event horizon to swashbuckle with the best of them which means I have no idea what's gonna happen. Rangers in 7.

Melissa: That Clarke MacArthur scored the series winner in Round 1 makes me think the Cinderella story might continue for a little longer. Erik Karlsson sets the tone in the series, and Craig Anderson comes up big. Senators in 6.

Derek: Long live The King. Lundqvist showed that he's still got it against Montreal in a huge series win. The Sens have a criminally underrated netminder in Craig Anderson, so expect another tight goaltending duel here. New York's experience, however, will pay dividends. Rangers in 7.

Mike: King Henrik is back to his old ways and that's good new for the Rangers. If the Rangers found a way to score -- watch out. Soapbox moment: The Craig Anderson story is one that needs more attention. Rangers in 6.

Huw: The Rangers have got the goaltending and the blue line as well as the experience. The Senators have a lot of bright spots but I don't think it will be enough. Rangers in 5.

Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins

Taylor: Must-watch TV in the second round, and honestly it comes down to a coin flip because they're pretty evenly matched. Capitals in 7.

Erin: Will we even hear about the other series with this one going on? I'm pretty sure NBC will just reair this for the next three rounds. Pittsburgh got lucky by taking advantage of underperforming Jackets goaltending, and the Capitals squeaked by another young-and-dumb team in the Leafs. Still, it feels like the Caps are different. Maybe? Please? Capitals in 7.

Robert: I don't see how the Pens can hold off the Caps without Letang, but apparently Washington can barely beat Toronto's U-18 squad, so whatever. Capitals in 6.

Ann: I've seen this before, the Pens won. Penguins in 6.

Wes: Because you totally want a playoff format that has the best two teams in the league face off during the NFL Draft. The Blue Jackets were a paper tiger, so take Pittsburgh's dominant round 1 with a grain of salt. I feel like this will either be a close Capitals win, or a Penguins sweep. Capitals in 7.

David: In some ways this matchup is easier since the Caps are underdogs in their minds, but it'll be competitive since even without Letang, Pittsburgh is still dangerous. As long as Trotz isn't playing Orpik 20 minutes. Capitals in 6.

Melissa: Justin Williams scores at least one OT winner in this hyper-competitive, super-close series. In the end, Ovi comes through, and Holtby helps the Caps hold off the Pens. Capitals in 7.

Derek: The story this series won't be Alex Ovechkin versus Sidney Crosby, but rather Niklas Backstrom versus Sidney Crosby. Backstrom plays the series of his life and takes advantage of some Penguins goaltending that won't be able to hold up this time. Capitals in 7.

Mike: After watching Toronto push Washington to six games, I can't bring myself to think the Caps can compete with the Pens, no matter how many injuries. Either way, this will be an emotional, hard-hitting series -- even if it is only a few games. Penguins in 5.

Huw: This is going to be a long slog of a series. The classic battle between the Caps and the Penguins. It will be an even handed and close series but I think the Caps come out on top in the end. Capitals in 7.