The 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs are presenting four competitive series for fans to enjoy. The playoffs started with sixteen teams, and with round one over, eight teams have already been eliminated from contention. Eight teams remain and several of the series are in incredibly close in terms of match-ups, and generally speaking, this seems to be one of the most competitive playoff seasons that the NHL has ever seen.
Eastern Conference – Playoffs
The two series in the NHL Eastern Conference Playoffs feature a match-up between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, and a match-up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. One team from each pairing will advance, but with each series requiring a team to win four games, we have seen a relatively evenly matched playing field. The Bruins and Lightning are in an extremely tight series that Tampa Bay currently leads at 2-1, after a dominating win at TD Garden in Boston. The Pittsburgh Penguins climbed back into the series with a win against Washington as well, making that series a dead heat at 2-2. The defending Stanley Cup champions are poised to return to the Stanley Cup Finals as they face off against their rivals in Washtingon, a team that wants to bring a championship to their franchise and star player, Alexander Ovechkin.
Western Conference – Playoffs
The two series in the NHL Western Conference Playoffs feature a match-up between the San Jose Sharks and Las Vegas Golden Knights, and a match-up between the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets. The western teams seem about as evenly matches at the Eastern teams, offering two series tied at 2-2. A major story line in the hockey world is the fact that the expansion team in Las Vegas, finds themselves nearly halfway to winning a Stanley Cup in their first competitive season in the NHL. The Nashville Predators are their biggest threat, after winning the regular season title and continuing to look strong in the playoffs.
Playoff Picture Going Forward
It’s hard to imagine what the playoff picture might look like in round three, but as of now all teams in round two have a realistic opportunity to advance with several games left to play in each series. The playoffs continue on May 4th, 2018 with the Lightning and Bruins playing game four in TD Garden.