2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview

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Eastern Conference

Wild Card Team #2 vs. Atlantic Division Winner

New Jersey Devils vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Players to Watch: F Taylor Hall and G Andrei Vasilevskiy

Who Wins: Lightning in 6 games

Atlantic Division #3 vs. Atlantic Division #2

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins

Players to Watch: F Nazem Kadri and F Brad Marchand

Who Wins: Bruins in 7 games

Wild Card Team #1 vs. Metropolitan Division Winner

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Washington Capitals

Players to Watch: D Seth Jones and D John Carlson

Who Wins: Capitals in 6 games

Metropolitan Division #3 vs. Metropolitan Division #2

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Players to Watch: F Jakub Voracek and F Evgeni Malkin

Who Wins: Penguins in 7 games

Western Conference

Wild Card Team #2 vs. Central Division Winner

Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators

Players to Watch: D Tyson Barrie and G Pekka Rinne

Who Wins: Predators in 5 games

Central Division #3 vs. Central Division #2

Minnesota Wild vs. Winnipeg Jets

Players to Watch: F Jason Zucker and G Connor Hellebuyck

Who Wins: Jets in 6 games

Wild Card Team #1 vs. Pacific Division Winner

Los Angeles Kings vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Players to Watch: F Anze Kopitar and F William Karlsson

Who Wins: Golden Knights in 7 games

Pacific Division #3 vs. Pacific Division #2

San Jose Sharks vs. Anaheim Ducks

Players to Watch: G Martin Jones and G John Gibson

Who Wins: Ducks in 6 games

Metropolitan Division

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1. Pittsburgh Penguins

Their depth is unmatched in a tough division.

2. Washington Capitals

A little roster shakeup might be just what they needed.

3. New York Rangers

So goes Henrik in net, so goes the Rangers Cup chances.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets

Their quick rise in the division was no fluke and having the reigning Vezina trophy winner proves that.

5. New York Islanders

It would be amazing if they didn’t retain their captain John Tavares at some point this year.

6. Carolina Hurricanes

Having a different full-time net-minder will go a long way in changing their fortunes.

7. Philadelphia Flyers

The top six forwards are solid, but their blue line and goaltender situation is a bit in flux.

8. New Jersey Devils

While they shouldn’t be the worst team in the conference, there will be growing pains along the way. Continue reading

Metropolitan Division

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1. Washington Capitals

Having the best record once again isn’t out of the question for them.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

Health and deciding on a goaltender are their two concerns for repeating as Cup champions.

3. New York Islanders

Their depth is almost unmatched in a deep division.

4. New York Rangers

A solid veteran group that will keep them in the Cup conversation.

5. Philadelphia Flyers

Staying relatively quiet in the offseason they won’t surprise anyone this year.

6. New Jersey Devils

Making a big splash and acquiring Taylor Hall is a good start for the offensive upgrade.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets

The direction of the franchise has flatlined somewhat.

8. Carolina Hurricanes

Their top 6 forwards are solid. Who will be the stalwart on the blue line? Continue reading

Metropolitan Division

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1. New York Rangers

A few roster tweaks still has them atop the Eastern Conference.

2. Washington Capitals

The team is buying in to what head coach Barry Trotz is selling.

3. New York Islanders

They’ll have a new home and a new fire to get back into the playoffs.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Adding another top tier scorer keeps them in contention.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

The grittiest team in the division always seems to find a way.

6. Philadelphia Flyers

Their looking for a new identity after another head coaching change.

7. New Jersey Devils

A new era is beginning and there are some encouraging signs.

8. Carolina Hurricanes

They have yet to find a franchise cog in net for quite some time. Continue reading

Metropolitan Division

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1. New York Rangers

With a failed Stanley Cup run the Rangers are still loaded for another shot.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

A bitter playoff exit forced them to do some house cleaning. They still have a talented roster though.

3. Columbus Blue Jackets

Last years surprise playoff appearance should make them better this year.

4. Philadelphia Flyers

They proved that with a suspect goalie in net they can still beat a Cup contender.

5. Washington Capitals

Time could be running out for the Capitals to make a run at the Cup with its current core.

6. New York Islanders

They could peak this year, but with a stacked division it might not be until next year.

7. New Jersey Devils

It will be strange not seeing Martin Brodeur in net for them.

8. Carolina Hurricanes

Too many questions on the blue line and in net to amount to any reasonable success. Continue reading