2018 NHL Playoff Preview
Beginning on April 11th, sixteen of the top teams in the National Hockey League will compete in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, trying to win the coveted Stanley Cup Trophy. The NHL playoffs are similar to the NBA and MLB playoffs, in that teams play a best of seven games series to determine who advances to the next round.
The first round of matchups in the Atlantic Division include top seed Tampa Bay Lightning vs the wild card New Jersey Devils, as well as the Boston Bruins, seeded as two, playing the Toronto Maple Leafs, seeded as three.
In the first round of the Central Division the first seed Nashville Predators will take on the wild-card Colorado Avalanche and the second seed Winnipeg Jets will go head to head against the Minnesota Wild, who are seeded third in the division.
The Predators are looking to make back to back runs to the Stanley Cup Finals, after losing the cup to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 playoffs. They are also considered one of the favorites to win the Cup after earning the Central Division and Western Conference Titles, for the first time in franchise history. The Preds also added the Presidents Cup to their list of achievements for the season, after they were awarded it due to their regular season record of 53-18-11, the best in the NHL this season.
The Metropolitan division is expected to have a competitive first round with the first seed Washington Capitals taking on the wild card Columbus Blue Jackets while the Pittsburgh Penguins, the second seed, will match up against their cross state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, who are entering the playoffs as the third seed in their division.
In both 2016 and 2017, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup and are looking to be the first team to win three Stanley Cups in back to back years since the New York Islanders won four Cups in a row in the 1980 through 1983 seasons.
In the Pacific Division, three out of the four spots are filled by teams from California. The second seed Anaheim Ducks will play the third seed San Jose Sharks, and the wild card Los Angeles Kings are matched up against the first seed Vegas Golden Knights. Despite it being their first season in the NHL, the Golden Knights have had a strong run with one of the best records in the league, 51-24-7, winning the Pacific Division Title, as well as being one of the first teams to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
Alex Tuch, a right-winger for Vegas, expressed his excitement in clinching the Division title and a playoff spot.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling clinching the Pacific Division Title and a playoff spot. My teammates and I have worked really hard to get where we are at this point in the season,” Tuch shared.
Tuch and the Golden Knights will play their first game playoff game in franchise history on Wednesday, April 11th at 10:00pm EST, in Vegas. Also on the 11th, the Minnesota Wild play the Winnipeg Jets and the Philadelphia Flyers play the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both games start at 7:00pm EST.
Be sure to tune into the rest of the playoffs on NBC channels, USA, and the NHL Network.