There may not be any Canadian teams in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but there are still plenty of terrific first round match-ups to watch. We have previewed each series that’s been locked in so far and you can check them out below.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS vs. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
The Washington Capitals enter the post-season as the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the Presidents’ Trophy winners, while the Philadelphia Flyers rode a hot streak late in the season to nab the last wild card spot
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS vs. NEW YORK RANGERS
The Pittsburgh Penguins shook off a slow start, and a coaching change, to surge into second place in the Metropolitan Division. They’ll face the team that’s eliminated them in each of the past two seasons, the New York Rangers.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING vs. DETROIT RED WINGS
Last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning fell just two wins shy of winning the Stanley Cup, but start this year’s post-season with a host of injury concerns. Meanwhile, the Detroit Red Wings snuck in despite losing their last game of the regular season and extended their franchise’s playoff streak to 25 years.
FLORIDA PANTHERS vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS
The Florida Panthers clinched just their second playoff berth in 15 seasons by winning the Atlantic Division led by a mix of young (Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad) and old (Roberto Luongo, Jaromir Jagr). They’ll face the New York Islanders, who have made the post-season for the second straight year, but haven’t made it out of the first round since 1993. A a sturdy blue-line, and star forward John Tavares will look to change that.
DALLAS STARS vs. MINNESOTA WILD
New rivalry anyone? The Dallas Stars — formerly the Minnesota North Stars — meet the city whose hockey team they took a couple decade ago. The newly formed Wild will have a tough task to take down the highest-scoring team in the league this season, but ultimately, both of these teams are unproven in the playoffs.
ST. LOUIS BLUES vs. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
The St. Louis Blues are looking to exorcise some playoff demons this season, after bowing out in the first round for the past three years in a row. But they’ll have to do it against a mighty opponent. The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks are back, and looking to firmly establish themselves as a dynasty…if they haven’t convinced you they are one already
ANAHEIM DUCKS vs. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
The Anaheim Ducks shook off a horrific start to the season to climb all the way atop the Pacific Division. For their efforts they get the Nashville Predators, finished in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot.
LOS ANGELES KINGS vs. SAN JOSE SHARKS
The Los Angeles Kings missed the playoffs last season only to rebound with an impressive 102-point season. They’ll host the San Jose Sharks, who believe this is the year they finally break through to the Stanley Cup Final.