Edmonton Oilers v Los Angeles Kings - Game Six
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Just like that, the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are complete -- and what a wild first round it was. We had multiple Game 7s, proof that the Presidents' Trophy curse is alive and well, multiple top-seeded teams being upset -- including the defending champions! -- and history made by the league's youngest franchise.

Now let's do it all over again.

With the Bruins, Lightning, Rangers and Avalanche -- all favorite sentering the playoffs -- now gone, the field is down to eight teams.  What is in store in the second round of the NHL playoffs?

Here's what our experts think:

Oilers vs. Golden Knights

Austin Nivison: Both of these teams were fairly impressive in the first round. The Oilers handled their business against a very good Los Angeles Kings team in six games. Leon Draisaitl is already up to seven goals this postseason, and Connor McDavid was as brilliant as usual. If there is a concern about Edmonton moving forward, it's that Stuart Skinner looked a little leaky at times against the Kings. That can't happen against Vegas. The Golden Knights made quick work of the Winnipeg Jets, and all the key players showed up. Jack Eichel and Chandler Stephenson delivered, Mark Stone finally looked comfortable after recovering from injury, and Laurent Brossoit stood strong in net. The Oilers were my Stanley Cup pick before the playoffs, and nothing about the first round changed my mind.
Pick -- Oilers beat Golden Knights 4-2

Chris Bengel: The Oilers were tested more than many thought they'd be in their opening round series against the Kings. Still, Edmonton displayed their offensive firepower with Draisaitl and McDavid combining for 21 points in the series. The Oilers' offense is just going to be too much for the Golden Knights after looking downright lethal on the power-play in their first round series. After all, Vegas wasn't tested much late in their series against the Jets after injuries got the better of Winnipeg.
Pick -- Oilers beat Golden Knights 4-3

Stars vs. Kraken picks

Nivison: I doubted the Kraken, and I paid for it. In the second round, I'm doubting the Kraken. Will I pay for it? Not if Roope Hintz continues to blaze through and around opposing defenders. In Dallas' first-round victory over the Minnesota Wild, Hintz tallied five goals and 12 points in six games. Now, it looks like Joe Pavelski will be back in time for Game 1, and that only makes me more confident in my pick. I don't want to dismiss the Kraken out of hand. They showed just how much of a weapon their depth is by knocking off the Colorado Avalanche with goals from 15 different players. But Dallas has some firepower of its own and rock solid goaltending in the form of Jake Oettinger.
Pick -- Stars beat Kraken 4-3

Bengel: After splitting the first four games of their series against the Wild, the Stars looked like a juggernaut. Hintz was a man possessed. Secondary point productive was a theme for Dallas with guys like Evgenii Dadonov, Miro Heiskanen, and Tyler Seguin rising to the occasion. The status of Kraken forward Jared McCann is very much up the air, but I just don't think Seattle has the scoring punch to make life difficult for Oettinger, who recorded an impressive 2.01 goals-against-average against the Wild.
Pick -- Stars beat Kraken 4-2

Devils vs. Hurricanes picks

Nivison: The Devils looked dead in the water after the first two games at the Prudential Center, but they won four of the next five and eliminated the New York Rangers with an excellent performance in Game 7. Jack Hughes has not been intimidated by the spotlight, and Akira Schmid has been a revelation in goal for New Jersey. The Hurricanes, as expected, played terrific defense in their first-round matchup against the New York Islanders. The issue is that goals were hard to come by, and Carolina is playing with a depleted forward group. That doesn't bode well against New Jersey, even if Timo Meier is out for a while.
Pick -- Devils beat Hurricanes 4-2

Bengel: Lindy Ruff's decision to pivot to Schmid in net clearly saved New Jersey's season. Schmid stopped all 31 shots in New Jersey's convincing Game 7 victory over New York. I believe that the Devils will have the clear advantage in between the pipes with Hurricanes netminder Frederik Andersen's play being often up-and-down. In addition, the Hurricanes averaged just 2.67 goals-per-game in Round 1 without offensive playmakers like Andrei Svechnikov and now Teuvo Teravainen. Devils should win this fairly comfortably.
Pick -- Devils beat Hurricanes 4-2

Maple Leafs vs. Panthers picks

Nivison: What a matchup we have here. The Maple Leafs got over the first-round hump, and the Panthers just knocked off the best regular-season team in NHL history. All of Toronto's stars are playing at a high level, and it is the deeper team. However, the Panthers had the roster to play at a high level all season, they just weren't getting the results. Now, it seems like they are getting the results when it matters most, and Matthew Tkachuk is a one-man wrecking crew. Plus, after watching Aaron Ekblad and Gustav Forsling hold their own against the Boston Bruins' best players, I'm confident they can do the same against Toronto. Give me a high-scoring series with multiple overtimes... and give me the Panthers.
Pick -- Panthers beat Maple Leafs 4-3

Bengel: They finally did it! The Maple Leafs exorcised their opening-round demons. Now with the proverbial monkey off their back, I expect Toronto to make a deep run at the Stanley Cup Final. Mitch Marner has continued his stellar season with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in the postseason thus far. Look for Marner, Auston Matthews and John Tavares to continue to pace this electric offense. What Florida did in the first round vs. the Bruins was spectacular, but I just don't see the Panthers being able to keep pace this time around.
Pick -- Maple Leafs beat Panthers 4-2