Avalanche vs Golden Knights plus other playoff matchups we want to see
If the NHL season ended today there would be some great matchups to kick off Round One. However, there’s still over a week left and much left to be decided.
In the East, 8 teams are in but still jockeying for position. Only the Florida Panthers have clinched the top seed in the Conference. Meanwhile the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers can’t finish less than second in the Metro, so both have secured home ice in Round One.
The West is very much up in the air with the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche having secured division titles. The Avs have also clinched the top seed and will face wild card team two, which right now is the Dallas Stars.
Of course, the Avs and Stars would be great but there’s another matchup we’d love to see.
Colorado Avalanche versus Golden Knights
If there was ever a hell of a first round matchup everyone but Avalanche fans would sign up for it would be Colorado versus Vegas.
This season, the Avs won the regular season series 2-1 by scoring 6 goals to the Golden Knights 5. Colorado lost the opening game 3-1 back in October and then won both contests in February. In all three games, the Knights never had a full healthy lineup.
Jack Eichel was acquired in November and played in the two losses, but Mark Stone did not suit up for those games and Max Pacioretty missed the last one in February.
Vegas is currently fighting for their playoff lives with four games remaining. One of those games is against the Dallas Stars, who hold a two point lead on the Knights. If Vegas wins out, they hold the tie-breaker and could claim the final wild card spot.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning
In their four regular season games, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs split two games each. Although the Lightning lost the very first game in OT to go 2-1-1.
These two Atlantic Division rivals look like a lock to square off in Round One and we are so here for it.
Tampa is the 2X defending Stanley Cup Champions and are probably the last team Toronto wanted to face in their opening series. The Lightning outscored the Leafs 16-12 this year, but half of those goals came on Thursday night in an 8-1 drubbing.
This is a big year for the Maple Leafs who have been very focused on erasing playoff failures and ending a 55 year Cup drought. A loss in the first round, even to the defending Champs will likely lead to big changes.
Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild both won on Thursday and actually secured a must-see series for Round One. All that remains to be decided will be who gets home ice advantage.
This season the Blues have been the better team head-to-head winning all three contests, although two were won in OT. So it was still closer than the season series indicated.
The Blues outscored the Wild 16 to 12 in those three matches.
Expectations are these two division rivals will play a chippy series as they equaled the previous 26 penalty minutes in the first two contests in their final meeting on April 16.
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
The New York Rangers locked up home ice advantage in the first-round of the playoffs by beating the rival New York Islanders on Thursday night. They are currently tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for first-place in the Metro. Should the Rangers win out their final four games of the season, including a matchup against the Hurricanes they will claim a division title.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are fighting off the Washington Capitals to hold third-place in the Metro and possibly avoid a meeting with the daunting Florida Panthers as wild card two in the East. They are up two points over Caps to date.
However, if things ended today the Pens and Rangers would be an incredible opening round matchup between two teams that do not like each other. A questionable hit in their last game by Pens’ Anthony Angello injured Rangers’ Tyler Motte causing a significant upper-body injury that knocked him out for at least the regular season.
The Rangers dominated the regular season series going 3-1 by scoring 11 goals for to the Penguins 4. Igor Shesterkin started all four games and posted a stunning save percentage of .960 with a GAA of 1.01 and a shutout.