Capitals' Kuznetsov, Shattenkirk among players ready to bust loose in the second round

Evgeny Kuznetsov is getting ready to break out. Can't you tell? Rob Carr/Getty Images

Which player is ready to break out in the second round?

Scott Burnside: I'm going with Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals. The Caps are going to need to fire on all cylinders to match the Pittsburgh Penguins' significant offensive depth, and that means Kuznetsov is going to have to deliver more finish than he did in the first round, when he had a goal and two assists in six games against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kuznetsov showed flashes of brilliance, and linemates Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson more than did their part in scoring five times in total. Now it's Kuznetsov's time.

Craig Custance: I'll go off the charts with a defenseman and pick Kevin Shattenkirk. He's still looking for his first playoff goal with the Capitals and was a minus-4 in six games against the Maple Leafs. But according to Corsica.hockey, the Capitals had a 15-12 scoring-chance edge when he was on the ice at even strength, yet they were outscored 5-1. Shattenkirk is due for a bounce or two to go his way against the Penguins.

Joe McDonald: When the second-round series between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators is over, winger J.T. Miller will have emerged as an important player on the Rangers' deep third line, along with Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello. That trio was excellent in the first-round win over the Montreal Canadiens while Hayes and Zuccarello led the way. Miller is durable, productive and ready to take on more responsibility. He needs to find more consistency in his game, and the second round is the perfect time to find it.

Pierre LeBrun: Ryan Kesler was limited to one assist in the Anaheim Ducks' four-game sweep of the Calgary Flames in the opening round. Although his top priority is the defensive side of the puck, and in the series against the Edmonton Oilers he has a headline-grabbing matchup with superstar Connor McDavid, Kesler tends to own his share of big moments in the playoffs. Don't be surprised if he makes this his series, including chipping in a few timely goals.