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April 13, 2018

NHL Playoff Preview

by Noah Stern, Staff Writer
Today we will be dissecting each of the first round NHL playoff matchups and predicting the winner in each series along with the amount of games the series will take. Keep in mind that all NHL playoff series are best of seven, meaning that one team has to win four games to advance to the next round.

Western Conference
(W2) Colorado Avalanche VS. Nashville Predators (1)
The Predators won the Presidents Trophy as the team with the most points in the regular season. The Avalanche, after a historically bad season last year, have made it back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Colorado made it in on the very last game of the season in an emotional night against the St. Louis Blues. The top team in the NHL vs the worst team that made it to the playoffs. The Predators should run away with this one.
Prediction: Predators in 4

(3) Minnesota Wild VS. Winnipeg Jets (2)
Coming into the season, the Jets seemed poised to be more exciting than they were last year but I don't think anyone expected them to be this dominant. The Wild were the same team as always, a good but extremely streaky team that snuck into the playoffs quietly. The Wild are going to try and make some noise but the fast and furious Jets will prove to be too much.
Prediction: Jets in 5

(W1) Los Angeles Kings VS. Vegas Golden Knights (1)
The best expansion franchise in NHL history so far. No other team has made it to the playoffs in their first year besides the Golden Knights. The Kings had a bounceback season after turning over their front office and snuck back into the playoffs. Although the Kings had a nice season, their slow legs will prove to be their downfall against this fast, young Vegas team.
Prediction: Golden Knights in 6

(3) San Jose Sharks VS. Anaheim Ducks (2)
The Sharks are looking for a way to get back the the Stanley Cup Finals after an appearance two years ago. The Ducks are looking to get past the conference finals hump. These are two teams that have been extremely successful in recent years and they will battle it out in a tough, rugged, and long series.
Prediction: Sharks in 7

Eastern Conference
(W2) New Jersey Devils VS. Tampa Bay Lightning (1)
The Lightning looked like they were running away with their division and then went on an extremely embarrassing second half and almost lost the division to the Bruins. The Devils on the other hand have made it back to the playoffs after a couple years of no postseason action. New Jersey will want to prove something and will certainly make this matchup much more difficult for the Lightning than expected, but as the lower seed, they will most likely still falter down the stretch.
Prediction: Lightning in 6

(3) Toronto Maple Leafs VS. Boston Bruins (2)
Yes, the Bruins almost won the division but the Leafs were not far behind. The runnin' and gunnin' Toronto Maple Leafs have been the most exciting team to watch throughout the entire season. Their speed will be too much for the veteran Bruins to handle.
Prediction: Maple Leafs in 7

(W1) Columbus Blue Jackets VS. Washington Capitals (1)
Sergei Bobrovsky has given the Capitals fits throughout his career. Braden Holtby has given the Blue Jackets fits throughout his career. Unfortunately, Holtby has had a down year and posted the lowest save percentage of his career this season so Philipp Grubauer is getting the start in game 1. The difference maker in this series is the fact that the Jackets don't know how to win in the first round, much like the Caps don't know how to win in the second round.
Prediction: Capitals in 5

(3) Philadelphia Flyers VS. Pittsburgh Penguins (2)
A battle of the Pennsylvania teams in this series. Two extreme rivals going at it in the playoffs. The Flyers are believed to be one of the few teams in the bracket this season that can take down the two-time defending champions. After a 10 game losing streak earlier in the season, the Flyers have a bit of extra motivation against their in-state rivals.
Prediction: Flyers in 7




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