Sport NHL playoffs 2018: First-round predictions

07:29  10 april  2018
07:29  10 april  2018 Source:   USA TODAY

NHL playoffs 2018: Bracket, first-round schedule, dates, TV times

  NHL playoffs 2018: Bracket, first-round schedule, dates, TV times The first-round schedule of the 2018 NHL playoffs is set, and the series openers are April 11-12.This year's chase for the Stanley Cup begins Wednesday, April 11, with three series openers. The two-time defending champion Penguins host the cross-state rival Flyers to start their quest for a three-peat in earnest, and the expansion Golden Knights play their first playoff game in franchise history.

Experts' predictions : First - round playoff picks. NHL experts predict : The Sedin twins' 2018 -19 team, which goalie will catch fire in the playoffs .

2018 Draft Players to Watch. My first - round playoff predictions . by Barry Melrose / NHL .com.

The first round of the NHL playoffs begins Wednesday with the Minnesota Wild at the Winnipeg Jets (CNBC) and the Philadelphia Flyers visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins (NBCSN) at 7 p.m. ET.

USA TODAY Sports’ NHL staff takes a stab at first-round predictions.

(1) NASHVILLE PREDATORS VS. (WC2) COLORADO AVALANCHE

Kevin Allen: Predators in 5. The Predators have too much depth, too much talent and learned too much last season to be upset in the first round.

Lightning's Stamkos eyes return for 1st round of playoffs

  Lightning's Stamkos eyes return for 1st round of playoffs Steven Stamkos is back on the ice, eager to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning into the NHL playoffs. The five-time All-Star missed the last three games of the regular season with a lower-body injury. He returned to practice this week and hopes to be ready for the start of his team's first-round series against the New Jersey Devils. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, stf/JJ) TAMPA, Fla. — Steven Stamkos is back on the ice, eager to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning into the NHL playoffs.

It's time for playoff hockey . All but one of the NHL 's Original Six are among 16 still standing. But what is playoff hockey without some playoff hockey predictions ? With action kicking off Wednesday night, let's project the winner of each first - round series 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs matchups.

Experts' predictions : First - round playoff picks. NHL experts predict : The Sedin twins' 2018 -19 team, which goalie will catch fire in the playoffs .

Jimmy Hascup: Predators in 5. The Avalanche aren’t quite ready for prime time.

Mike Brehm: Predators in 5. Nashville has better goaltending and defense. Nathan MacKinnon was a -6 vs. the Predators this season.

Jace Evans: Predators in 5. Colorado’s turnaround was one of the best stories in the NHL this year, and while it has some top-end offensive stars, Nashville’s strong defense should be able to keep those players in check.

(2) WINNIPEG JETS VS. (3) MINNESOTA WILD

Allen: Jets in 6. Defenseman Ryan Suter's absence (broken leg) will make it doubly difficult for the Wild to slow down the Jets' high-powered offense.

Hascup: Jets in 6. The Jets’ offense will overwhelm the Ryan Suter-less Wild defense.

Brehm: Jets in 5. The Wild will be hard-pressed to contain Winnipeg's speed with Ryan Suter out and Jared Spurgeon's status in doubt.

What will Vegas be like for Golden Knights' playoff encore after regular-season 'pool party'?

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Experts' predictions : First - round playoff picks. 4dGreg Wyshynski. The top challengers for the Predators, Lightning. 4dMatthew Coller. College free agents who could make an NHL impact.

Nhl playoff predictions 2018 . And what a race it shapes up to be this year. With the Metro projected to send four teams to the playoffs with the Rangers sitting on the The 2017 NHL Playoffs begin Wednesday with five first - round games.

Evans: Jets in 4. Winnipeg is probably best known for its offense, but record-setting American goalie (44 wins) Connor Hellebuyck is the backbone that could propel this team to a deep playoff run.

(1) VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS VS. (WC1) LOS ANGELES KINGS

Allen: Golden Knights in 7. Respect the Kings' championship pedigree, but haven't we learned not to doubt the Vegas spunk?

Hascup: Kings in 6. Los Angeles has the game breakers required to win a playoff series and end the feel-good story of the season.

Brehm: Kings in 6. The Golden Knights have had a few rough patches recently. Jeff Carter's return has made the Kings more dangerous.

Evans: Kings in 7. The Golden Knights stunned the world with their inaugural season success, but the Kings still boast a championship core that has won together in the postseason – and giving up the fewest goals in the league this season doesn’t hurt, either.

More: NHL playoff power rankings: Penguins' quest for three-peat begins

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Let’s get to the countdown/ predictions for the Division Finals. • More: NHL Playoffs 2017 ( Round 1 ) Countdown and Predictions . • More: BTLNHL #30: Anaheim Ducks • More: Worst to First Jerseys: Anaheim Ducks (Redux) Top 5: Black NHL Jerseys. The 2018 Stadium Series Jersey Countdown.

Okay, let’s start with the worst jersey match-up in the first round of these playoffs ! Prediction : Penguins in 5. The Blackhawks have one of the best jerseys in the league : their classic home reds. Top 5: Black NHL Jerseys. The 2018 Stadium Series Jersey Countdown.

More: NHL point projections reflection: Golden Knights had me fooled

(2) ANAHEIM DUCKS VS. (3) SAN JOSE SHARKS

Allen: Ducks in 7. Both of these teams are so effective in penalty-killing that this toss-up series will be decided 5-on-5

Hascup: Ducks in 7. This will be a nasty series. Love the way the Ducks played down the stretch, with five consecutive wins and a 13-4-1 record since March 1.

Brehm: Ducks in 6. If Joe Thornton returns, this series could go to the Sharks. But that might not happen.

Evans: Ducks in 7. Goalie John Gibson kept the Ducks’ season from going off the rails due to a crazy amount of injuries, and in the playoffs they’ll go as far as he carries them – assuming he’s back to full health.

(1) TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING VS. (WC2) NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Allen: Lightning in 5. Coach Jon Cooper's Lightning have offensive superiority against a team giving up almost three goals per game this season.

Hascup: Lightning in 5. It's hard to see the Devils containing the Lightning's top-end talent and offensive explosiveness.

Brehm: Devils in 6. The Devils are on fire, and the Lightning haven't been the same in the second half of the season.

Warriors officially rule Stephen Curry out for Game 1 against the Spurs

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NHL Playoff Predictions 2018 . hockeyfanland April 6, 2018 0 Comments. A likely first - round matchup with the Avalanche now looks softer after Colorado starter Semyon Varlamov suffered a season-ending hip injury.

AttendanceAttendance. Historical LeadersHistorical Leaders. Subscribe to NHL .TVSubscribe to NHL .TV. Daily LeadersDaily Leaders. RPIRPI. Experts' predictions : First - round playoff picks. 701d.

Evans: Lightning in 5. Taylor Hall finished 41 points ahead of any other player on the Devils, and while that might earn him MVP, the Devils do not have enough depth to compete with the East’s top team.

(2) BOSTON BRUINS VS. (3) TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Allen: Maple Leafs in 6. The Bruins are the better all-around team, but that doesn't guarantee success against the hungry Maple Leafs.

Hascup: Bruins in 6. The Bruins are kind of a Predators-lite (minus the league's best defense) in that they do many things well. The Leafs aren't quite there yet.

Brehm: Bruins in 6. Too much depth for the Leafs to handle.

Evans: Maple Leafs in 7. The high-flying Leafs went 3-1-0 in the regular season against the Bruins. They could be poised to take the next step in the playoffs against a Bruins team that might be feeling some emotional letdown after letting the division title slip away on the season’s final day.

(1) WASHINGTON CAPITALS VS. (WC1) COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Allen: Capitals in 7. The Caps are better down the middle, and Blue Jackets have no one who can turn a game like Alex Ovechkin can.

Hascup: Capitals in 6. Do not like the center matchup for the Blue Jackets.

Brehm: Capitals in 7. The expectations aren't as high for the Capitals this year. They'll be pushed but win Game 7.

Evans: Capitals in 6. Washington is playing some of its best hockey of the season at the right time, going 12-3-0 in its final 15 games.

WATCH: Nick Young arrives in silk robe, boxers for Warriors’ playoff opener

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The first round of the NHL playoffs may Here are my predictions for the first round . Your favorite teams, topics, and players all on your favorite mobile devices. © 2018 FanSided Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Below are the 2018 NHL Playoff Predictions . Remember these are just predictions . A lot can change from now till the end of the season. The Golden Knights win the Pacific but will loose to the surprising Colorado Avalanche in the first round .

(2) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS. (3) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Allen: Penguins in 7. Sidney Crosby and Co. have won 32 playoff games over the past two seasons. They understand how to survive in what should be the grittiest first-round series.

Hascup: Penguins in 6. Hard to bet against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Co.

Brehm: Penguins in 6. So much offensive talent, so this will be a great series to watch. But the Penguins have figured out how to close out series the past two years.

Evans: Penguins in 6. Pittsburgh scored five goals in winning all four games against its in-state rival this year, and with some of the game’s top offensive stars, there’s no reason to expect that not to continue.

Related slideshow: 10 X-factors for the NHL playoffs (provided by Yardbarker)

Patrice Bergeron, Bruins: <p>Most Bruins-related talk these days seems to focus on Brad Marchand, and understandably so. He is their top point producer, has a tendency to run afoul of the NHL and is arguably the league's single most hated player among opposing fans. That said, Bergeron is still, in many ways, the straw that stirs the drink for Boston in the playoffs. He is still a superb two-way force at age 32, and the kind of player whose game seems to elevate in the postseason. Boston has battled injuries all year, but if the team can stay healthy and Bergeron is able to take, say, a Sidney Crosby or an Evgeni Malkin out of a series, the B's could find themselves playing for the Stanley Cup yet again.</p> 10 X-factors in the 2018 NHL Playoffs

LeBron James: Game 1 was a ‘good test for some of our younger guys’ .
LeBron James expects a better Game 2 from Cleveland's younger players like Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood.LeBron James was slow to get going in Sunday's Game 1, but he showed up eventually. He finished with 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds but few could say the same for Cleveland on Sunday. And only a few of them can count on a lack of experience.

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