National Hockey League playoff matchups: Tampa Bay tops East


This year, it came down to the wire as one of the biggest matchups last night being the St. Louis Blues vs. the Colorado Avalanche; if the Avs won in regulation, they would punch their ticket into the playoffs, but if the Blues won in regulation or if the game was tied after regulation, the Blues would be. The company's agreement with the NHL comes shortly after Google's YouTube TV sealed a deal to become the first ever presenting sponsor for the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, adding to its role as the presenting partner for Major League Baseball's (MLB) World Series.

Winning in the regular season is one thing, and finding success in the postseason against a veteran team like the Los Angeles Kings is another story.

Game three: Sunday, April 15th in Philadelphia at 3 p.m.

Ranking in the top 10 in almost every team category, the Golden Knights have certainly made a statement in their first year in the league. Check out the odds below and then visit SportsLine now to see David Kelly's best bets for the Stanley Cup, all from the Toronto-born analyst who has nailed 10 straight picks and is up almost $5,300 picking National Hockey League games this season.

The next matchup is going to be called: The Battle of California, as the (2) Anaheim Ducks will take on the (3) San Jose Sharks. There's very little chance that Washington's offence will be able to support Holtby's poor play, not in the playoffs.

On the other hand, San Jose has been inconsistent this year. He's gone 12-6-6 and has a.928 save percentage. This series could be a pitchers duel (or goaltenders duel) between these two combatants, allowing for every game to be even more exciting. Even though the Wild and the Jets were a good distance apart in the standings to end the regular season, it is going to be an even playing field when the series begins. Not to mention goalie Pekka Rinne, who is a favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this year. It'll have to up to Jonathan Bernier to stop the offensive push of Nashville, but the prediction: Nashville in 5 games. As the Minnesota Wild take on the Winnipeg Jets, NBC Sports Network will feature a doubleheader. Hockey people reluctant to fault the system typically take an approach like Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who said, "Whether the format itself is right or wrong, if you want to win the Cup, you have to find a way to get through this format". Game 3 - Lightning at Devils, Monday, April 16, 7:30 p.m.

The Jets may not be flush with playoff experience, but they've got a goalie in Connor Hellebuyck with incredible chops and the Wild won't have Suter.

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In their 5-4 OT loss in Pittsburgh last month, the Flyers outshot the Pengiins (45-32), won 61 percent of the faceoffs, and outhit them (21-19). Colorado is in the playoffs for just the second time in the past eight seasons.

The Flyers don't have home-ice advantage in this spot but it shouldn't be too much of a factor. The Flyers have lost four meetings in a row with the Penguins and are 1-5 in their last six at the Consol Energy Center but they will have to buck that trend and snap out of their road losing ways if they're going to continue their chase of the Stanley Cup.

There are so many headlines heading into these playoffs: Will Washington finally overcome their playoff failures?

Crosby pushed the glove away with his stick and reignited a melee in a good, old-fashioned Pittsburgh-Philadelphia playoff game that featured three fights, way more scrums and 158 penalty minutes. These two teams are infamously known for hating each other immensely. This is likely to be a high-scoring, hard-fought and emotional series.

The differences are Marleau and Plekanec, replacing Matt Martin and Brian Boyle. He's been quite an addition to Anaheim's lineup since arriving via trade with the New Jersey Devils in late November.

This might be the only path to victory for the Devils: the Lightning allow just 28 even-strength scoring chances per 60 minutes, the 12th fewest in the National Hockey League this season, and have Norris Trophy hopeful Victor Hedman to help make sure scoring attempts are kept to a minimum.

Reigniting and creating new rivalries was the goal of this playoff format, which mimics the one in place for most of the '80s and early '90s. The Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy posted a 44-17 record. Also, Keith Kinkaid starts to falter and they have to rely on Cory Schneider between the pipes.