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Roundtable: NHL teams facing the most pressure in the Second Round

Carter Hart and Patrik Laine headline the list of Pro Hockey Talk's top-10 bounce-back players for the 2021-22 season. Liam McHugh, Keith Jones, and Anson Carter discuss the candidates.

Which team has the most pressure to advance out of the NHL’s Second Round?

James O’Brien, NHL writer: While Don Sweeney extended the Bruins’ window by unearthing David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy, this is still a team that’s generally getting older. With Tuukka Rask’s future unclear, the Bruins face high expectations against an Islanders team that somehow manages to continually maintain underdog status. Sneaky, those Islanders.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Vegas’ early success after entering the NHL changed their timetable. Owner Bill Foley was thinking playoffs in three seasons, Stanley Cup in six. Well, they’ve been to one Cup Final and the postseason in all four years of their existence. If they get knocked out by a very good Colorado team, what does that mean for their offseason? The reaction to a possible playoff disappointment is what makes going on a deep run important for the Golden Knights.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]

Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer: If the Hurricanes want to be the next Lightning, they have to beat the Lightning. They’ve been close these past couple of seasons to being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and its universally believed this is their time. They can’t get there without taking down the Lightning. The Hurricanes have home ice, are mostly healthy, and actually a favorite, on paper. It’s tough to know if they’ll ever have a roster like this again, and there has to be some level of pressure for them to finally advance and be taken seriously.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: I think Boston will have the most pressure to get out of the second round. They are an aging team and there is no guarantee that Tuukka Rask will return next season, and that will hurt their chances in the foreseeable future. Bergeron is already 35 and will be 36 by the start of next season. They need to win now.


Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Now that Toronto lost the answer for me here is Vegas. The early, unprecedented success from day one has created an unbelievably high bar for a fourth-year franchise. Given the amount of money they have spent and the blockbuster moves they keep making it just seems like they are approaching Stanley Cup-or-bust territory in the eyes of ownership and management. That is never a good place to be in because when you inevitably do not win wild things start to happen with the decision making. The way they lost to Dallas a year ago, the way they have struggled in close out games, and the way this series started against Colorado. Just seems like they need to win.