It started yesterday with half of the games starting and continues today with the others.
In the East we begin in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of the Presidents’ Trophy taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tampa Bay won all three games during the season, but winning the Presidents’ Trophy isn’t the best indicator of success in the playoffs as in the past decade only 1 team has managed to win both, the Blackhawks in the lockout in 2012-13 season. In the next game out of the Atlantic it is the Boston Bruins playing the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston took three of the four games during the season, and this is a rematch from last year when the Bruins advanced in seven games, however Toronto has won eight of the previous 15 playoff match ups. Over in the Metropolitan Division we’ve got the Washington Capitals playing the Carolina Hurricanes. Washington took all four games during the season. In the other game we have the New York Islanders facing off against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They split the games during the season. This is the fifth playoff meeting between the two teams with New York winning three of the past four, they last met in 2013 where the Penguins won.
In the West we begin with the Central Division with the Nashville Predators facing the Dallas Stars. Nashville won three of the five games during the season. The other pair is the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues. The Jets and Blues tied overall during the season 99 points with the Jets winning three of the four games during the season. Out in the Pacific Division we have the Calgary Flames matched up against the Colorado Avalanche. During the regular season the Flames won all three games they played. The other series is San Jose Sharks facing the Las Vegas Knights, this is a rematch from last year where the Knights won in six games. They split the regular season meetings.
It is pretty cool that five of the match ups are for the first time in the playoffs. A lot of people are saying that the Lighting are the team to beat in the East while in the West it could just be about anyone.
First round predictions: Tampa Bay wins and will play Toronto in the second round while the Capitals will take on their old Coach and the NY Islanders. Over in the West Nashville will be playing the Jets and Calgary will see the Sharks in the next round.