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First Round Cheat Sheet
First Round Series Odds

Key:
A – Atlantic
M – Metropolitan
C – Central
P – Pacific
W – Wild Card


Eastern Conference

1A Tampa Bay vs. 2W New Jersey

Lightning: 54-23-5, 113 points
Devils: 44-29-9, 97 points


Season series: Even though the Lightning own home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, Tampa Bay has struggled with New Jersey this season. The Devils pulled off a three-game season sweep of the Lightning, with all three wins coming by one goal apiece. In New Jersey’s 4-3 triumph at Tampa Bay in mid-February, the Devils allowed 51 shots on goal, but cashed as +190 underdogs.

Previous playoff outcome: Tampa Bay reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 before losing in six games to Chicago, while dropping a seven-game series to Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016. The Lightning fell short of the playoffs last season, as the Bolts are facing the Devils in the postseason for the first time since 2007. New Jersey ended a five-year playoff hiatus with this season’s late charge to the postseason, as the Devils made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 prior to falling to Los Angeles.

2A Boston vs. 3A Toronto

Bruins: 50-20-12, 112 points
Maple Leafs: 49-26-7, 105 points


Season series: The Bruins slipped to second place in the Atlantic division after losing their season finale to the Panthers at home. Boston may be kicking themselves because not only did they lose out on home-ice advantage through the first three rounds, but it drew Toronto. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins three of four times this season, including a pair of one-goal victories at Air Canada Center. Dating back to the start of last season, Toronto owns a 7-1 mark against Boston, including a perfect 4-0 record at home.

Previous playoff outcome: Boston failed to qualify for the postseason in 2015 and 2016, while getting bounced in the first round last season against Ottawa. The Bruins outlasted the Maple Leafs in seven games of the opening round in 2013, capped off by the epic Game 7 comeback in which Boston erased a three-goal third period deficit to win in overtime. The Leafs have not advanced past the first round since 2004, while reaching Game 6 against Washington last season before getting eliminated.

1M Washington vs. 1W Columbus

Capitals: 49-26-7, 105 points
Blue Jackets: 45-30-7, 97 points


Season series: The Capitals busted the 100-point mark for the fourth straight season, but have not advanced past the second round in any of the previous three postseasons. Washington draws Columbus in the opening round as the Caps grabbed three of four matchups this season. The Caps scored four goals in each of their two home victories against the Jackets, while Columbus avoided the season sweep with a 5-1 blowout at Nationwide Arena in late February.

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Previous playoff outcome:Washington has not reached the Stanley Cup Final since 1998, as the Capitals are coming off consecutive second round exits the last two seasons to eventual champion Pittsburgh. Columbus is participating in the playoffs for the fourth time in franchise history, coming off a 4-1 defeat in the first round to Pittsburgh last season. The Jackets have never advanced past the first round, while facing the Capitals in the playoffs for the first time ever.

2M Pittsburgh vs. 3M Philadelphia

Penguins: 47-29-6, 100 points
Flyers: 42-26-14, 98 points


Season series: These Keystone State rivals renew acquaintances after the Penguins pulled off a four-game season sweep of the Flyers. Pittsburgh scored exactly five goals in each victory, while each home win came in overtime. The Pens dominated the Flyers in both matchups at Wells Fargo Center by 5-2 and 5-1 outcomes, while all four meetings sailed OVER the total.

Previous playoff outcome: The Penguins are seeking their third consecutive Stanley Cup title after avoiding an upset against the Predators for the championship last June. The Flyers missed the playoffs last season, while searching for a first round playoff victory for the first time since 2012. In fact, the last time Philadelphia advanced past the opening round, the Flyers knocked out the Penguins in six games six seasons ago.

Western Conference

1C Nashville vs. 2W Colorado

Predators: 53-18-11, 117 points
Avalanche: 43-30-9, 95 points


Season series: What a difference a year makes as the Predators were the last team in the Western Conference playoffs in 2017 and are the owners of the President’s Trophy in 2018. Nashville had its way with Colorado this season by sweeping the four-game series, while netting at least four goals in each victory. The Avalanche have dropped 10 straight meetings with the Predators dating back to 2016.

Previous playoff outcome: The Predators are coming off their most successful playoff run in franchise history after upsetting the Blackhawks, Blues, and Ducks to capture their first Western Conference title. Although Nashville fell in six games of the Stanley Cup Final to Pittsburgh, the Preds are heading to their fourth consecutive playoff appearance for the second time in franchise history. The Avalanche ended a three-year playoff drought by edging the Blues for the final postseason spot. Colorado and Nashville are hooking up in the postseason for the first time.

2C Winnipeg vs. 3C Minnesota

Jets: 52-20-10, 114 points
Wild: 45-26-11, 101 points


Season series: These Central division rivals haven’t met since mid-January, as the Jets captured three of four matchups from the Wild. Winnipeg won both home meetings with Minnesota, while the Wild routed the Jets in the final matchup, 4-1 on January 13 at XCel Energy Center. The Jets closed the season by winning 11 of 12 games, while the Wild dropped six of 10 down the stretch, including four defeats past regulation.

Previous playoff outcome: Winnipeg is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, as the Jets were swept by the Ducks in the opening round. Minnesota returns to the postseason for the sixth consecutive year, but the Wild have been bounced in the first round in each of the last two seasons. The Jets and Wild have never hooked up in the playoffs, while each squad has never reached the Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

1P Vegas vs. 1W Los Angeles

Golden Knights: 51-24-7, 109 points
Kings: 45-29-8, 98 points


Season series: The Golden Knights surpassed expectations by posting the best record for an expansion team in NHL history. Vegas split four matchups with Los Angeles this season, as the two games at Staples Center went to overtime. The Golden Knights defeated the Kings at home, 4-2 in November, while the Kings swept a home-and-home series in late February.

Previous playoff outcome: Vegas heads to the playoffs for the first time, while Los Angeles has missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. The Kings lost to the Sharks in the opening round of the 2016 playoffs, but are seeking their third Stanley Cup title since 2012.

2P Anaheim vs. 3P San Jose

Ducks: 44-25-13, 101 points
Sharks: 45-27-10, 100 points


Season series: These two teams won’t have to leave California for this series as the two Pacific division rivals were separated by one point this season. Three of four regular season meetings went to the shootout, as San Jose captured three victories over Anaheim. The only game decided in regulation was a 6-2 road blowout by the Sharks in late January at Honda Center. Nine of the past 10 meetings between these squads have been decided by one goal, with Anaheim holding a 5-4 edge in those nine close affairs.

Previous playoff outcome: Anaheim and San Jose are hooking up in the playoffs for the first time since 2009 quarterfinals when the Ducks eliminated the Sharks in six games. The Ducks have reached the conference finals in two of the past three seasons, including an appearance last season before bowing out to the Predators. San Jose played for the Stanley Cup two seasons ago, but lost to Pittsburgh in six games. The Sharks followed up that effort with an early exit last season to upstart Edmonton in six games.

  
HEADLINES
· Predators' Ellis signs $50M contract
· Devils re-sign D Santini to 3-year deal
· Devils sign F Kevin Rooney to contract
· Red Wings re-sign Larkin to 5-year deal
· Coyotes sign Dvorak to 6-year extension
· Predators GM Poile tops US Hockey HOF
· Chicago announces plans to honor Mikita
· Mikita, who led Blackhawks to title, dies
· Caps hire Arniel, Cashman as assistants
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