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NHL Playoffs 2015 Predictions, Schedule: Game 7 For NY Islanders & Washington Capitals; Detroit to Close Out Tampa Bay?

First Posted: Apr 27, 2015 04:47 PM EDT
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There are only two NHL series remaining in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

One of those series will come to an end on Monday, while the other could also meet its ending or get an extension through Wednesday. 

Latin Post takes a look at these do-or-die games and predicts whose NHL season will continue and who will go home: 

NY Islanders vs. Washington Capitals - Game 7

This series has gone back and forth with a plethora of major story lines. There has been violence from both sides with Tom Wilson taking down Lubomir Visnovsky in Game 4 and the Islanders' fourth line of Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas doling out hits at every possible moment. There have been inexperienced defenseman for the Islanders. There has been terrific goaltending from Jaroslav Halak and Braden Holtby throughout the series.

And finally, there is just one game to decide it all.

The big story of course will be that the Capitals have been poor in the decisive Game 7 since 2008. In its history, the team has a record of 3-9 in Game 7 and is only 2-7 on home ice. The team does seem confident that it can get the job done this time around.

"We regroup and play the same game that we did in [a 5-1 win] Game 5," Holtby said according to NHL.com. "We showed flashes of it tonight, but I don't think we were tight enough defensively. We had our chances, and we will have to make sure we have some heroes in Game 7."

The Islanders are 3-4 in overtime and won the famous Easter Epic against the Caps in 1987 to clinch a win in that series' Game 7. The last time the team won Game 7 was in 1993, when David Volek finished the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins' chance at a three-peat.

Of course, this is the first Game 7 that the Islanders have contested since 2002, when they lost against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Many expect superstars to be the heroes in big games such as these and the Islanders have certainly gotten some good play from superstar John Tavares. The Isles captain had a goal and an assist in the 3-1 Game 6 win. Nicholas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin had been dominating the Islanders until they were shut out in Games 5 and 6; they will need to show up to get their team to The Promised Land.

Prediction: Washington ends the jinx and wins Game 7 at home.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning - Game 6 (Detroit Leads 3-2)

Will the real Peter Mrazek please stand up?

When Michael Babcock made the gamble to go with the younger goalie as the Game 1 starter, many questioned the decision. But it paid off with the Czech making 44 saves and lead his club to a 3-2 win.

He imploded in Game 2 with four goals allowed on 18 shots and was eventually pulled.

But in Game 3, he had 22 saves on 22 shots as Detroit won 3-0.

But unsurprisingly, he regressed in Game 4 and conceded three goals with his team holding a 2-0 lead. But he made up for that poor effort with another shutout, the second of his playoff career in a 4-0 win in Game 5.

So will Mrazek continue the trend of poor showings in even-numbered games? Or will he feed off his recent shutout and put up another strong effort?

The Tampa Bay Lightning hope it is the former as they look to extend their season. And no one would like for Mrazek to implode more than captain Steven Stamkos, who has yet to register a goal for Tampa Bay in this series. This season, Stamkos finished with 43 goals in 82 games, good for second in the league. But he has yet to hit the twine in this series and has two assists in five games; both helpers came in Game 2 when his team scored five goals. He has not recorded a point in any other game this series, a rather disconcerting fact for his club.

If Tampa Bay is to be successful, Stamkos needs to have a big game. He has eight goals in 27 playoff appearances, so he should be due for one anytime soon.

Predictions

Tampa Bay forces Game 7 on Wednesday. Mrazek's dark side reappears and he implodes, leaving Babcock with a tough decision to make in goal ahead of the final game of the series.

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