NHL Playoff Bracket 2020: Updated Stanley Cup Schedule and Round 2 Viewing InfoAugust 29, 2020
The two top seeds in the NHL playoff brackets have work to do to establish dominance in their respective second-round series.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Vegas Golden Knights enter Saturday level at one game apiece with the New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks, respectively.
To take over their respective matchups, the Flyers and Golden Knights need to make adjustments that play to their strengths.
The Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning are in more favorable positions with 2-1 leads, and one of them can be extended further in Saturday's opener.
Updated Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule
Philadelphia, Vegas Looking to Gain Separation
The top seeds have had mixed results in the second round.
Vegas controlled its Game 1 matchup with Vancouver but was then silenced by Jacob Markstrom's 38 saves in Game 2.
Although the Golden Knights allowed five goals in that contest, they still had an encouraging offensive showing since they sent 40 shots at the Vancouver net. If they pepper Markstrom with a similar number of shots Saturday, Vegas should move back in front in the Western Conference series.
Markstrom has made more than 30 saves on seven occasions inside the Edmonton, Alberta, hub, but he has conceded multiple goals in all but one start. Vegas' key to unlocking Markstrom could be the play of Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, who have seven combined shots in two games. In the first round, the pair combined for three goals and eight assists on 32 shots.
Philadelphia's route to success will likely be through a more defensive mindset, led by goalie Carter Hart in goal.
Hart owns a .935 save percentage and 1.97 goals-against average in the postseason and has not lost back-to-back games in Toronto. The 21-year-old has given up no more than two goals in each of his seven victories in Toronto. If he replicates that form against the Islanders in Game 3 and beyond, the Flyers could be off to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2010.
Tampa Bay Looking to Gain 1st 3-1 Lead
The Tampa Bay Lightning are experiencing the postseason run they wanted to have a year ago.
In 2019, the No. 1-seeded Lightning were surprisingly swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets after winning a record-equaling 62 games during the regular season.
Inside the Toronto hub, Jon Cooper's side took care of the Blue Jackets and then won two in a row against the Boston Bruins in the second round.
Tampa Bay's latest victory showed just how dominant it can be in the offensive zone, as it put seven goals past two Boston goalies.
The Lightning have attempted 28 more shots than the Bruins over three games and had 14 skaters contribute at least one point. They have also done a decent job on the power play, putting up three tallies off the man advantage.
If Tampa Bay continues to flex that scoring depth and outpaces Boston in the offensive stat categories, it could take a commanding 3-1 advantage and possibly earn some days off while waiting for an Eastern Conference Final opponent to emerge.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.