A Full Guide to the 2021 NHL Playoffs

As a coach, his groups have been tenacious and speedy, finest exemplified by the leading center and leading scorer Sebastian Aho. Carolinas deep, mobile back end is led by Dougie Hamilton, and has actually efficiently supported veteran goalie Petr Mrazek and younger netminder Alex Nedeljkovic, both of whom published lean numbers this season. Carolina was likewise the very best well-rounded entertainer on special groups, with its second-ranked power play and third-rated penalty kill.
Nashville (31-23-2) won 4 of its final five games to fend off an obstacle from the 2020 runner-up Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot. Roman Josi is the ruling Norris Trophy winner as the leagues leading defenseman, and he led the Predators in scoring for a second straight season.

The Islanders got winger Kyle Palmieri and center Travis Zajac from the Devils near the trade due date, assisting coast up a frontline that was diminished by a season-ending injury to the team captain Anders Lee. Mathew Barzal paced the team offensively, leading with 45 points. Goalie Semyon Varlamov tied for the N.H.L. lead in nothings and had the second finest save percentage among goalies with at least 20 starts.

No. 2 Florida Panthers vs No. 3 Tampa Bay Lightning (Game 1: Sunday at 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports).
For the very first time, these Sunshine State squads will square off in the postseason. If the temperature level is just now rising in this competition, thats due to the fact that the Panthers (37-14-5) have not won a playoff series because they went to the finals in 1996. Though the Lightning (36-17-3) are the safeguarding champions, slight wagering favorites and the more accomplished franchise, the Panthers go into the series with home-ice advantage and more momentum from the stretch run as winners of six straight games and 10 of their last 12.
Florida Coach Joel Quenneville won 3 Stanley Cups with Chicago and has gotten the most out of a Panthers team that includes unsung stars like center Aleksander Barkov and wing Jonathan Huberdeau. However one essential player will be missing, as defenseman Aaron Ekblad broke his leg in March.
The group has dealt with a number of injuries: Nikita Kucherov, the 2019 most important gamer, has missed out on the whole season with a hip injury, and Steven Stamkos, a two-time goal-scoring leader, has been out for more than a month with a lower-body injury. Both are anticipated to be readily available for Game 1.

Early in the season, Pittsburgh (37-16-3) was a middling group with an aging core. The Leafs have the longest title dry spell, having not won the Cup since 1966-67, the final season with simply 6 teams. Goalie Jack Campbell set an N.H.L. record by winning his very first 11 starts this season, and buoyed Toronto in the lack of Frederik Andersen, who returned from injury on Wednesday after missing out on 23 video games.

Vegas (40-14-2) completed second in their department but with the exact same amount of points as Colorado, and may be the most adaptive team in the field. Like Tampa, the Golden Knights can play a quick, end-to-end game, or they can grind with more physical groups. They were likewise the leagues most reliable charge killers.
Wings Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty formed a powerful combination. Pacioretty led Vegas in objectives (24 ), and Stone led in points (61) while likewise offering elite defense. Marc-Andre Fleury rebounded fantastically from a turbulent 2020 postseason, publishing a 1.98 goals-against average.
Few might have anticipated that the Wild (35-16-5) would have been among the top groups.
Kirill Kaprizov, the rookie of the year front-runner, led the team in goals and points, setting franchise rookie records in both categories regardless of the abbreviated season. Center Joel Eriksson-Ek and winger Jordan Greenway established themselves as strong physical existences, exacting tolls on groups with their effective cycle and extreme forecheck. Jared Spurgeon continued to drive the Wilds deep defense corps, while the complimentary representative finalizing Cam Talbot and the novice Kaapo Kahkonen enhanced their situation in goal.

North Division.
No. 1 Toronto Maple Leafs vs No. 4 Montreal Canadiens (Game 1: Thursday at 7:30 p.m., N.H.L. Network).
These two legendary franchises have won the most Stanley Cups in hockey history– Montreal has 24 (23 as a member of the N.H.L.) and Toronto has 13– and will playing each other in the postseason for the very first time given that 1979.
Toronto (35-13-7) had produced the best space in the standings in between a department winner and the runner-up, ranking 5 points ahead of Edmonton as each group still had one regular-season video game staying entering Friday. The Leafs were 6th in goals-per-game, but enhanced defensively from enabling the seventh most goals last season to 26th this year.

The N.H.L. playoffs begin on Saturday the exact same way the 56-game routine season played out: the schedule featured entirely intradivisional play and the postseason will be no various through the first 2 rounds.
The four semifinalists will be seeded for the conference finals based on their records, and the 2 winners will play for the Stanley Cup.
Due to the fact that of the divisional adjustment to lower travel during the pandemic, three of the four semifinalists might be groups that were formerly in the exact same conference, producing what would have been an all-conference Cup final under the previous alignment.

The Leafs have the longest title dry spell, having not won the Cup considering that 1966-67, the final season with just six groups. Goalie Jack Campbell set an N.H.L. record by winning his very first 11 starts this season, and buoyed Toronto in the lack of Frederik Andersen, who returned from injury on Wednesday after missing 23 games.

East Division
No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs No. 4 Islanders (Game 1: Sunday at noon, NBC).
Early in the season, Pittsburgh (37-16-3) was a middling group with an aging core. It shook up its front office in February, however there were couple of indications that the Penguins would win what was perhaps the most competitive department in the league. Pittsburgh and Sidney Crosby, its captain, did simply that.
The Penguins played through a spate of injuries that, at one point, had actually sidelined the majority of their top-nine forwards, the star center Evgeni Malkin missing out on six weeks. The trade deadline acquisition Jeff Carter had taped 19 points in 40 video games with the Los Angeles Kings, however considering that pertaining to Pittsburgh he has posted 11 points in 14 contests, consisting of a four-goal efficiency this month against Buffalo.
The Islanders (32-17-7) have actually continued to play a methodical, stable and unflappable brand of hockey under Coach Barry Trotz. They last dealt with the Penguins in the postseason in 2019, Trotzs very first year behind their bench, when they swept Pittsburgh in the preliminary. This season, the Islanders had a winning record against five out of their seven East Division opponents, however struggled against the top teams, Pittsburgh (2-4-2) and Washington (2-5-1).

The team has actually dealt with a number of injuries: Nikita Kucherov, the 2019 most important gamer, has missed out on the whole season with a hip injury, and Steven Stamkos, a two-time goal-scoring leader, has actually been out for more than a month with a lower-body injury. Kirill Kaprizov, the rookie of the year front-runner, led the team in points and goals, setting franchise rookie records in both classifications in spite of the abbreviated season.

Heres what you need to learn about each series:
All times are Eastern.

Montreal won the Cup in 1993, the last champion for a Canadian franchise. They upset Pittsburgh in last seasons certifying round in a No. 5 vs No. 12 matchup, and built on that success this season with increases from a brand-new acquisition, wing Tyler Toffoli, and a mainstay, defenseman Jeff Petry, who finished first and second in scoring on the team.

West Division.
No. 1 Colorado Avalanche vs No. 4 St. Louis Blues (Game 1: Monday at 10 p.m., NBC Sports).
Colorado (39-13-4) won the Presidents Trophy with the leagues best record. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen finished initially and second in scoring in the division.
St. Louis (27-20-9) has actually seen lots of turnover from its 2019 lineup that won the very first Stanley Cup in franchise history. The Blues lost their leading defenseman and captain Alex Pietrangelo in free firm before the season and stood firm through a wide variety of injuries to protect the 4th seed in the top-heavy West.
They have actually been paced by their top center and new captain, Ryan OReilly, who led the team in scoring and was a +26 on a lineup where no other gamer was even close.
No. 2 Vegas Golden Knights vs No. 3 Minnesota Wild (Game 1: Sunday at 3 p.m., NBC).

No. 2 Edmonton Oilers vs No. 3 Winnipeg Jets (Game 1: Wednesday at 9 p.m., NBC Sports).
Edmontons (35-18-2) Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl dominated this season.
Ahead of the Oilers final regular season video game on Saturday against Vancouver, McDavid had scored 104 points, 21 more than the second-place Draisaitl, who is initially in plus-minus score ahead of his teammate, defenseman Darnell Nurse. Unsurprisingly, the Oilers have the most efficient power play of 2021, in regards to both conversion rate and net power-play portion.
They feature some interesting aspects, beginning with goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who dealt with more shots and played more than any other goalie this season. Winnipeg lost 7 of nine video games to Edmonton this season, all in regulation, including the past 6 meetings.

No. 2 Washington Capitals vs No. 3 Boston Bruins (Game 1: Saturday at 7:15 p.m., NBC).
Possibly the greatest story in this series will be the leagues biggest gamer, Zdeno Chara, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound defenseman. Chara signed with Washington before the season, having invested the previous 14 campaigns as Bostons captain, playing in three Stanley Cup finals and winning a title in 2011.
Washington (36-15-5) has actually now qualified for 13 of the previous 14 postseasons. Nearly every essential player was absent for one factor or another down the stretch, yet Washington still won 11 of its last 16 video games.
Boston depends on its “perfection line” of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand (who led the department in objectives and points) and David Pastrnak. Goalie Tuukka Rask won seven of his last eight decisions and the rookie Jeremy Swayman emerged as a strong contingency strategy with a 1.50 goals-against average in limited responsibility.

Central Division.
No. 1 Carolina Hurricanes vs No. 4 Nashville Predators (Game 1: Monday at 8 p.m., CNBC).
After nine successive nonplayoff seasons, the Hurricanes (36-12-8), led by Coach Rod Brind Amour, have actually made each of the past 3 postseasons, consisting of a run to the conference finals in 2019. With a division title under its belt, Carolina will look for to go back to the finals for the very first time since 2006, when it won the title with Brind Amour as captain.