National Hockey League playoff matchups: Tampa Bay tops East

Todd Singleton
April 11, 2018

New Jersey at Tampa Bay, 6 p.m.

But it's been the Nikita Kucherov show for most of the year in Tampa Bay as the 24-year-old finished third in the league with 100 points (39 G, 61 A).

In Elliot's two games since his return from surgery, the veteran goalie didn't look almost as mobile as he had for most of the season - although some of that was to be anticipated. Also, Keith Kinkaid starts to falter and they have to rely on Cory Schneider between the pipes. The goalie matchup will be Toronto's Frederik Andersen (38-21) vs Boston's Tuukka Rask (34-14). New Jersey Devils (WC2) Based purely on seeding and regular season performance, the assumption would be that this is the Lightning's series to lose. Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen and Boston counterpart Tuukka Rask have near identical save percentages at.918 and.917, respectively. Of all the unlikely scenarios for this team this season, playoffs had to be at the top of the list. Their reward? A first-round matchup with the No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Let's start here. The Blue Jackets were just as hot down the stretch as the Capitals.

Expectations are far lower for the Capitals compared to year's past, which might actually help the underachieving Eastern Conference power. In their previous incarnation, before moving to Phoenix in 1996, the Jets got past the first round only twice and never made it to the third round. Pittsburgh scored five goals in all four regular season games and Philadelphia had four goals in both overtime losses. The two teams were only separated by two points in the standings, but with the season series, the Penguins swept the Flyers 4-0 and outscored them 20-11. The Pennsylvania rivals flat out don't like each other.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are set to square off in the first round of the NHL Playoffs with game one on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

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There had not been a repeat Stanley Cup champion since the 1997 and '98 Detroit Red Wings when the Penguins did it past year.

The best postseason series in North American sports, the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs, gets underway on Wednesday night. The Predators took the first step on their mission by winning the Presidents' Trophy with 117 points. He had to make just 17 saves in the latter contest and, when tested, looked much better than he did against the Hurricanes. If it wasn't fate, then it was just meant to be as the Avalanche over came all the defeats from last season, and officially became the league's top underdogs of this season as they defeated the Blues 5-2 and marched their way into the final wild card spot. Goaltending for Nashville has been an incredible story as Vezina Trophy Finalist: Pekka Rinne has a 42-13 win/loss record.

San Jose Sharks vs. Anaheim Ducks - Time is running out for "Jumbo" Joe Thornton to win a cup. It allowed Sidney Crosby to be, well, Sidney Crosby as the Pens captain recorded 89 points for a second-straight season. A broken ankle suffered by star defenceman Ryan Suter will also be tough to overcome. But for numerous Knights, this will be their first time playing hockey in mid-April. Inequities have happened, but so has plenty of drama on Cup runs by the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and the Penguins twice.

"They're just a good team", Voracek said. Another regional rivalry in the making, this one could go the distance. They're meeting a Maple Leafs team anchored by a young dynamic trio of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. Anaheim starter John Gibson hasn't played since suffering an upper-body injury on April 1. The playoffs can be a different animal, and in a series with this much emotion, no result would be shocking.

Ron Hainsey and Travis Dermott will provide more than Matt Hunwick and Martin Marincin did against the Capitals; you can't buy the playoff experience of Patrick Marleau's 177 playoff games (okay, so maybe the Leafs did) and as much as Tomas Plekanec took some time to adjust to Toronto, he has the opportunity to be a playoff asset, considering his 87 post-season games.

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