After a gruelling 82-game schedule for each of the NHL's 31
teams we're finally down to the playoffs. However, it came down to the very
last day of the season to figure out who's playing who. This was because the
Boston Bruins still had a chance to win the Atlantic Division and Eastern
Conference when they took on the visiting Florida Panthers on April 8th,
but ended up losing 4-2. Therefore, the Bruins will now take on the Toronto
Maple Leafs in an original-six showdown while the East's top-seeded Tampa Bay
Lightning will face off against the New Jersey Devils.
Let's check out the eight playoff matchups since they get
underway this Wednesday, April 11th and may very well take a couple
of months to crown the eventual Stanley Cup winner as all series follow the
best four-out-of-seven format.
With the regular season now
over we already know the winners of some of the silverware. Connor McDavid of
the Edmonton Oilers led the league in scoring for the second straight season
with 41 goals and 67 assists for 108 points to capture the Art Ross Trophy.
Russian sniper Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals won his seventh
Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals as he notched 49. Los
Angeles Kings' goalie Jonathan Quick won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the
second time in his career as the goaltender to allow the fewest goals against
while playing a minimum of 25 games. Quick ranked ninth in wins with 33, 10th
in goals-against-average at 2.40 and tied for fourth in shutouts with five.
Over in the East we have the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning taking on the
second wildcard team the New Jersey Devils. This is New Jersey's first
postseason appearance since 2011/12 when they lost the Stanley Cup Final to the
Los Angeles Kings. As mentioned, the second-seeded Atlantic Division Boston
Bruins take on the third-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs and the Leafs are hoping to
snap their 51-year Stanley Cup drought.
The Metropolitan Division-winning Washington Capitals will be meeting the first
Eastern wildcard team the Columbus Blue Jackets and there's an all-Pennsylvania
showdown as the second-seeded Metropolitan team the Pittsburgh Penguins will be
battling it out with the third-seeded Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins are
aiming to become the first team to win three straight Stanley Cups since the
New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980 to 1983.
In the Western Conference, the top-seeded team and Central Division-winning
Nashville Predators will be taking on the second wildcard club the Colorado
Avalanche. The second and third-seeded sides in the Central Division square off
against each other as the Winnipeg Jets will duel with the Minnesota Wild. We
also have the first-year expansion and Pacific Division-winning Vegas Golden
Knights meeting the first wildcard Los Angeles Kings as the Knights enter the
first playoff round in the club's short history. And the final matchup will see
the second and third-seeded Pacific Division squads the Anaheim Ducks and San
Jose Sharks clashing with each other.
The NHL's playoff format isn't without controversy though since two of the
league's top four teams will be eliminated after the second round. This means
two of Nashville, Tampa, Winnipeg and Boston will be going home and it's due to
the fact the top two clubs in each conference could meet each other in round
two. This will happen if Nashville and Winnipeg win their series in the West
and Tampa and Boston win theirs in the East. The current format will remain in
effect until after the 2019/20 season though.
Labels: Ian Palmer