Ranking all 16 National Hockey League playoff teams by their forwards


Wednesday will be an especially insane night in Philadelphia sports, with the Flyers in action, the Sixers taking on the Bucks in their regular-season finale and the Phillies facing the Reds. The Penguins have gone 30-11 here at home for the year and they have averaged 3.63 gpg and have allowed 2.68 gpg in those games. Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Ilya Bryzgalov were horrendous. The Avalanche have made the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

The Sharks and Ducks played to shootouts in three of their four meetings this season, with San Jose holding a 3-1 advantage in the series.

The young difference-makers - Matthews, Marner and William Nylander - not only are a year older, they have the experience of last year's brief playoff appearance and the growth that comes with having produced through a second National Hockey League season. All of those teams finished with over 100 points. The Predators suffered defeat in the Stanley Cup Finals in Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. That said, getting pucks past a healthy John Gibson with any consistency is going to be a tough task, and goaltending is a definite edge for Anaheim. He's gone 12-6-6 and has a.928 save percentage.

The Penguins have been very good on offense so far as they come in ranked 3rd in the league in scoring at 3.29 gpg, while also ranking 1st in shots taken (34.4 spg) and 1st in power play conversions, converting on 26.2% of their chances.

This matchup has all the makings of a seven-game series. The season series doesn't offer Colorado much hope here, sadly.

The skinny: These teams were involved in a three-way trade with the Ottawa Senators in the fall that moved Kyle Turris from the Senators to the Predators and 19-year-old defenceman Sam Girard from Nashville to Colorado. Goaltending for Nashville has been an incredible story as Vezina Trophy Finalist: Pekka Rinne has a 42-13 win/loss record.

The Predators have the Presidents' Trophy, and the NHL-expansion Golden Knights carry the buzz entering the Western Conference playoffs, which have the potential of resembling nothing from the past. It'll have to up to Jonathan Bernier to stop the offensive push of Nashville, but the prediction: Nashville in 5 games.

Winnipeg Jets-Minnesota Wild: Let's see if Winnipeg's Patrik Laine's scoring carries over to the playoffs after he finished second behind Alex Ovechkin for the Richard Rocket Trophy, awarded to those with the most goals. "In the past it hasn't affected as many teams as might be required to get that movement".

While it is expected that Giroux will continue his MVP-like performance in this series - just as it is expected that Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek will be huge contributors - a problem could arise if Pens center Derick Brassard is fully healed from the groin injury that kept him out of the lineup for the final five games of the regular season. The long look makes it clear why, too.

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By the way, Hellebuyck and his Wild counterpart, Devan Dubnyk, work out at the same hockey school in the summer.

The MTS Centre in Winnipeg will be absolutely bananas as the city will be experiencing just its third playoff game since the franchise's reboot in 2011. Washington beat Columbus in three of their four meetings this season, losing 5-1 in the most recent matchup on February 26.

Both teams head into this series with question marks. It seems pretty fitting that the first series to get underway will match up the #2 and #3 seeds from the Metropolitan Division in the battle of Pennsylvania.

These two teams don't like each other. This will most likely be the most physical series out of them all. It has recently provided more summer entertainment than Pittsburgh's baseball team by winning back-to-back Stanley Cups (if you haven't heard, Phil Kessel is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion).

We could see some fireworks, but Pittsburgh's forward depth should eventually overwhelm Philadelphia in this series.

The Vegas Golden Knights, the Los Angeles Kings, the Winnipeg Jets, the Colorado Avalanche, the New Jersey Devils, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Philadelphia Flyers, are the newcomers for the 2018 postseason. To make things more interesting, the Devils swept the season series from the Lightning and have been red-hot with wins in 10 of their last 14.

Elliott, whose teammates call him "Moose", returned to the lineup and was shaky in a 4-3 win Thursday over Carolina, then had to make only a few hard saves as the Flyers suffocated the Rangers on Saturday, 5-0, and clinched a playoff spot. Keith Kincaid took over the crease as the Devils pushed for the playoffs before securing the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but veteran netminder Cory Schneider remains in the picture should he falter.

This has to be the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Even if the Devils were to beat Tampa, they would have to face the Toronto Maple Leafs or, the Boston Bruins in the second round. This is a rematch of the first round matchup back in 2013, where the Bruins completed the dramatic game 7 comeback by overcoming a 3 goal deficit with 3 minutes left in the 3rd period and scoring the overtime victor, which would send them further on in the playoffs and eventually the finals, where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks.