Published: Wed, April 11, 2018
Tech | By Amelia Peters

NHL Playoff Bracket 2018: Complete 1st-Round Schedule and Series Predictions

NHL Playoff Bracket 2018: Complete 1st-Round Schedule and Series Predictions

The 2018 NHL Playoffs kick off tomorrow night.

Two of the top four teams in the National Hockey League are guaranteed to be out the playoffs after the second round.

Mike Sullivan is part of that different coaching staff, and the bench boss has done a tremendous job of helping his team to become mentally strong and resilient; and establishing a level of discipline and focus that he feels is essential to winning. However, they still have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and those two formidable stars are quite likely the best 1-2 punch in the sport when they are on top of their game.

There was certainly some risk that Elliott would struggle in those games, games the Flyers still needed to win in order to clinch a playoff berth.

That includes the Vegas Golden Knights, the expansion team that incredibly holds the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference after putting up a historic 109-point season. Jake Voracek has an impressive 65 assists on the campaign, only three players have more.

Teams now play fewer regular-season games against each other and are made up of more skilled players and fewer enforcers. How they respond to the bright lights and raised intensity of the playoffs, does add intrigue.

"I would say you try to build your game throughout the series, or shift after shift", said defenseman Kris Letang, one of only three remaining Penguins from the three Stanley Cup championship teams dating back to 2009.

Peter Laviolette, who coached the Flyers in that 2012 series and has been with the Predators in emotional series against Anaheim and Chicago, knows that's just how the league wanted it.

So what will it take to dethrone the almighty Pens? In the giddy aftermath, Fleury passed the Cup to Murray, in many ways a literal passing of the torch from one generation to the next. Fans have access to the top national sports channels including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TNT, TBS, CBS Sports, NBCSN, Fox Sports networks, the ESPN family of networks and local sports networks in markets across the country.

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No matter how long the series goes, the Philadelphia Flyers are in for a marathon.

Power-plays are so key to momentum in the postseason and can often sway series one way or the other. This team, however, is better than the 2016 team.

Should the Flyers need to use another goaltender, Petr Mrazek, who was inconsistent after being acquired from the Red Wings on February 19, is expected to serve as Elliott's backup because Michal Neuvirth is still injured.

Of course he let in some softies too, but all goalies give those up during the course of a season.

That can not continue into playoffs with the amount of weapons on Pittsburgh's roster. Most impressively, Matthews missed 20 games this season due to injury and was still able to record 34 goals.

Capitals defenseman John Carlson said he thinks playoff rivalries have gotten worse more because of what players can get away with, the physical toll games take and the memories of the nasty things that happen. They finished what, two points behind us? Giroux, specifically, had the season of his life after endless setbacks, with 102 points. In addition to playing well defensively, Gostisbehere also will need to quarterback a successful power-play.

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Blake Wheeler recorded a career-high 91 points in his age 31 season to anchor Winnipeg's top line while second-year man and 19-year-old Patrik Laine finished second in the National Hockey League with 44 goals. Also, his +/- of 17 highlights his effectiveness in the defensive zone, as well. Philadelphia does have some momentum as they come in having won four of their last five games, but they have a tall task ahead of them as they lost all four games against the Penguins this year. It's not as if the Flyers are invincible on this end, especially considering the question marks in the net and their own inconsistencies, but if there's an area on the Pens that can be exploited, it's the "D".

The 10-game winning streak in January was the period that showed me Bernier was going to help this team make the playoffs.

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