The NHL playoffs are around the corner as the first round is set to begin this weekend. Like in normal years, 16 teams will compete for the Stanley Cup although in a slightly different format.
The top four teams in each division will faceoff with the winners all advancing to the semifinals. Here is a closer look at each division.
Starting out West, the Presidents’ Trophy winning Colorado Avalanche will be a team to watch this postseason. The Avalanche and division rival Golden Knights tied with 82 points this season. Colorado will be matched up against the St. Louis Blues who won the Stanley Cup during the 2018-19 season.
As for the Golden Knights they will face the Minnesota Wild. The Wild haven’t reached the second round of the playoffs since the 2014-15 season.
Moving to the Central, the top three teams were only separated by five points. The Carolina Hurricanes won the division and will face the Nashville Predators. Sebastian Aho finished the year with 57 points in 56 games for the Canes leading them to the top seed despite a three game losing streak.
Currently on a six game winning streak, the Florida Panthers are red hot entering the playoffs as they face the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Like Carolina, the Lightning ended the season on a three game losing streak which included two losses to the Panthers, each by four goals.
The East division could be all around the deepest division in the playoffs with all four teams finishing with over 70 points. The Pittsburgh Penguins won the division and will face the New York Islanders. Islanders captain Anders Lee was sidelined for the season with a torn ACL back in March which knocked the team down in the standings late in the season. As for the Penguins, they have won three games in a row to help win the division. Captain Sidney Crosby scored three times during the streak.
The other matchup in the East will see the Washington Capitals face the Boston Bruins. Boston won their last matchup against the Islanders which moved them up to the three seed in the division and into this matchup. The Capitals beat the Bruins 2-1 the last time they played on May 11.
Finally up North, the Toronto Maple Leafs will face the Montreal Canadiens. The top seeded Leafs have not won a playoff series since the 2003-04 season but look primed to end the streak. Despite losing five straight games, the Canadiens have gotten a boost from 20 year old Wisconsin sensation Cole Caufield who has scored five points in his ten games played which includes two overtime winners.
The final matchup to preview is the Edmonton Oilers facing the Winnipeg Jets. Oilers star Connor McDavid recorded over 100 points in a season for the fourth time in his career with 104 this season. This season is only the fifth time the Jets have ever made the playoffs, the one time the Jets won the first round they made it to the conference finals back in the 2017-18 season.
Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.