Will the year of Philadelphia continue?
The skinny: The Golden Knights shattered records for expansion teams, including points (109), home wins (29) and road wins (22). The Blue Jackets bowed out in five games, victims of the NHL's divisional playoff format. 9 out of the 16 teams in the 2018 postseason also made it to the 2017 postseason.
Eastern Conference: Metropolitan Division: (WC1) Columbus Blue Jackets vs (1) Washington Capitals: The Columbus Blue Jackets couldn't afford to play the Pittsburgh Penguins again in the first round. Washington beat Columbus in three of their four meetings this season, losing 5-1 in the most recent matchup on February 26. Perhaps having Philipp Grubauer in goal ahead of playoff bust Braden Holtby will help. No matter who it is, Sergei Bobrovsky will have a solid first round knowing he isn't playing Pittsburgh.
Nashville finished seventh in the league with 261 goals without any player scoring 30. The Penguins have a very good offense and they have allowed just 12 goals over their last five games, plus they have won all four meetings with the Flyers this year. This is a series that could come down to a battle of stars - Alex Ovechkin vs. Artemi Panarin - and goaltending. The goaltending matchup in this series will be Brian Elliott and Matt Murray. Both teams have some of the top players in the league.
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, 6 p.m. With Pittsburgh trying to three-peat, the Penguins are going to come at the Flyers hard with that top line of Malkin, Crosby, and Kessel. In 10 career playoff games with Detroit, Mrazek excelled. putting together a 1.88 goals-against average and.931 save percentage. "We have a different team, different experience, different coaching staff, so I don't think we look at it anymore".
A Penguins-Capitals style repeat could happen this year with the Central's Predators and Jets on a crash course for a second-round showdown and the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning locked into a stacked Atlantic bracket with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are a large reason why.
The Avs played two away games during that streak against Dallas and Toronto.
This has to be the Tampa Bay Lightning.
From the middle of December to the middle of March, there wasn't a hotter team in the league than the Boston Bruins. This is a really good Philly team and we know all about them, they know all about us and the rivalry here and all that. Bernier had not left a good impression on Maple Leafs or Ducks fans, and I feared it would become a nightly game of, "Oh great, Bernier is in net". "I do believe in terms of the matchups in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they're better with this format".
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Los Angeles Kings - The most successful inaugural season in any sport has Vegas not only in the playoffs, but with home ice advantage.
The Avalanche shocked everyone this year just by making the playoffs. But the Kings have too many clutch players in Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty and netminder Jonathan Quick.
Babcock stressed the importance of depth, and there's no question the Leafs are deeper, at forward and on the blue line, than they were last spring.
Anaheim Ducks (2) vs. San Jose Sharks (3) If the season series is any indication, hockey fans in California are going to have some late nights watching the Ducks and Sharks. Anaheim usually plays well at the end of the season and heading into the postseason.
The x-factor is Ryan Miller, who's now the Ducks' starting goalie because of the recent injury to John Gibson. The pick: Anaheim in 5. He took a leave to be with his family following his father's death, but returned eager to get back to the rink that he's long considered a sanctuary. Colorado tied with Arizona with the youngest roster at 25.8 years old. The Avalanche had a great turnaround in 2017-2018 after finishing with the worst record in the National Hockey League in 2016-2017.