With the idea that the NHL playoffs could be a couple of months out, let’s take a look at how the matchups would break down if the standings as they are today were to be used. This creates some very interesting matchups, with the Battle for Pennsylvania, what should be a shootout with the Leafs and Lightning, and what could be a potential upset with the Bruins taking on a Blue Jackets team that has had their number so far this year. Check out how each matchup has broken down this year.


Toronto Maple Leafs(Atlantic 3) vs Tampa Bay Lightning(Atlantic 2)

The matchup between Toronto and Tampa Bay has the potential to be a really fun, high scoring series. The layoff should mean that Stamkos is back and healthy which adds a lot of scoring punch for the Lightning. Toronto won the season series 2-1 and has more scoring depth than Tampa does, however, Tampa has the edge in defense and grit which can be very important in a 7 game playoff series. I see the goalie situation as equal, with both Vasilevsiy and Andersen both having the potential to steal a series or be completely average and cancel each other out. If I was making a pick today, I would take the Lightning in 6.

Head to Head:

Tampa won in Toronto 7-3.

Toronto won in Tampa 4-3

Toronto won at home 2-1

Toronto Top Scorers in the Series

Marner - 4A

Matthews - 2G, 2A

Nylander - 2G, 2A

Tavares - 3G, 2A

Muzzin - 1G, 1A

Barrie - 2A

Toronto Goalies

Andersen - 0.878 save percentage (3 games)

Tampa Bay top Scorers in the Series

Kucherov - 3G,3A

Stamkos - 1G,4A

Shattenkirk - 1G,2A

Point - 2G, 1A

Cirelli - 3A

Palat - 2G

Hedman - 2A

Tampa Bay Goalies

Vasilevskiy - 0.897(3 games)


Pittsburgh Penguins(Metro 3) vs Philadelphia Flyers(Metro 2)

This type of matchup is what makes the NHL’s playoff seeding system so great. You get two good teams, who are also rivals facing each other in the first round. In the season series, Pittsburgh won more games, but the home team won each meeting, and Philadephia is going to have the home-ice advantage which is very important for them, as they won 71% of their home games vs just 47% of their road games. While the Penguins have more star power, I think this is a very equal matchup. I pick the Flyers in 7.

Head to Head:

Pittsburgh won at home 4-3 in OT

Philadelphia won at home 3-0

Pittsburgh won at home 7-1

Pittsburgh Top Scorers in the Series

Crosby - 2G, 4A

Rust - 1G, 2A

Malkin - 1G, 2A

Letang - 1G,2A

Simon - 1G, 2A

Kahun - 1G, 2A

Hornqvist - 2A

McCann - 1G, 1A

Pittsburgh Goalies

Jarry 0.915 save percentage (2 games)

Murray - 0.967 save percentage (1 game)

Philadelphia Top Scorers in the Series

Pitlick - 1G, 1A

Couturier - 2A

Voracek - 2G

Niskanen - 2A

Konecny - 1A

vanRiemsdyk - 1G

Giroux - 1A

Hayes - 1A

Philadelphia Goalies

Elliott - 0.850 save percentage (3 games)

Hart - 0.889 save percentage (part of 1 game)


Columbus Blue Jackets(Wild Card 2) vs Boston Bruins(Atlantic 1)

When you lead the league in points, getting a first-round matchup with a team like Columbus isn’t ideal. The Blue Jackets have won both games against the Bruins, and are strong defensively and in goal. Where the Bruins have the advantage though is their top line. The combination of Bergeron, Pastrnak, and Marchand, is the rare combination of scoring and shut down defense. A rested Rask should help them as well, as he can be as good as any goalie when he is on. I like the Bruins in 6, but if you’re betting, there is some upset potential here.

Head to Head:

Columbus won in Boston 2-1 in OT

Columbus won at home 3-0

Columbus Top Scorers in the Series

Wennberg - 1G, 1A

Gerbe 2A

Dubois 1 G

Milano 1G

Nash - 1G

Stenlund - 1A

Jones 1A

Columbus Goalies

Merzlikins - 0.983 save percentage

Boston Top Scorers in the Series

Pastrnak 1G

Bergeron 1A

Krug 1A

Boston Goalies

Rask - 31/33 0.939 save percentage

Halak - 24/27 0.889 save percentage


Carolina Hurricanes(Wild Card 1 vs Washington Capitals(Metro 1)

Much like the Toronto/Tampa Bay series, this could also prove to be a high scoring affair. What will be interesting to watch is what Washington does with their goalies. For the most part, Samsonov has outplayed Holtby this year, but I expect that the Caps will go to Holtby in game one and the job will be his to lose. Carolina, on the other hand, will benefit from the layoff having 2 healthy goalies which they sorely missed for the last few weeks of the season. They could also see a return from Dougie Hamilton which significantly helps their defensive depth and power play. I will take the Capitals in 7, but I think there is some upset risk here for the Capitals as well, so keep that in mind when the betting lines are released.

Head to Head:

Carolina won in Washington 3-2 in OT

Carolina won at home 6-4

Washington won in Carolina 4-3

Washington won at home 2-0

Carolina Top Scorers in the Series

Staal - 1G, 1A

Foegele - 2G, 2A

Dzingal - 1G, 2A

Svechnikov - 1G, 4A

Teravainen - 1G, 1A

Necas - 1G, 1A

Martinook - 2A

Haula - 1G, 1A

Slavin - 1G, 1A

Carolina Goalies

Mrazek - 0.886 save percentage (3 games)

Reimer - 0.941 save percentage (1 game)

Washington Top Scorers in the Series

Ovechkin - 3G, 1A

Vrana - 1G, 2A

Panik - 2G

Backstrom - 2A

Eller - 1G, 2A

Kuznetsov - 2G, 1A

Orlov - 2A

Carlson - 3A

Hathaway - 1G, 1A

Washington Goalies

Samsonov - 0.953 save percentage (2 games)

Holtby - 0.857 save percentage (2 games)

Keep an eye out for the Western Conference preview and lots of other hockey content as we fill the void until hockey returns.