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  • The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Wednesday. Anything can happen, but before it does, we celebrate our favorite time of the year by stacking up all 16 teams.
By Jeremy Fuchs
April 09, 2018

Forget the holiday season, we’re about the enter the most wonderful time of the year: the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The favorites have established themselves over the past few months, but none of that means much of anything going forward. Two of the top-four teams will be out of the running by the second round of the playoffs, and don’t be surprised it things get even crazier before Gary Bettman hands out the Stanley Cup.

Below is a ranking of the 16 playoff teams—but of course, by the end of the first round, this could all be blown up.

Here's how we see playoff teams stacking up from 16-1

16. Colorado Avalanche
Last week: 16 (-)
Record: 43-30-9
Playoff seed: WC2 (vs. NSH)

It’s a fantastic success to get this far for Nathan MacKinnon and Co. An almost impossible battle against Nashville awaits the Avs in Round 1.

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15. Philadelphia Flyers
Last week: 13 (-2)
Record: 42-26-14
Playoff seed: M3 (vs. PIT)

Brian Elliott is back between the pipes and needs to bring his A-game. The Flyers’ offense might be good enough to move them far if he holds up.

14. New Jersey Devils
Last week: 17 (+3)
Record: 44-29-9
Playoff seed: WC2 (vs. TBL)

Is Taylor Hall enough? He has been so far this year. Keith Kinkaid has been a standout in recent weeks, and the Devils will need that to continue.

13. Anaheim Ducks
Last week: 15 (+2)
Record: 44-25-13
Playoff seed: P2 (vs. SJS)

Not having blueliner Cam Fowler to start is a huge blow. A banged up John Gibson makes things tough.  

12. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last week: 10 (-2)
Record: 45-30-7
Playoff seed: WC1 (vs. WSH)

The Jakets are riding a heat wave. They’ve got a gamebreaker in Artemi Panarin, a top defensive pair in Seth Jones and Zach Werenski and a resurgent Thomas Vanek. We haven’t even gotten to their goalie yet, either. Here’s your sleeper team.

11. Los Angeles Kings
Last week: 12 (+1)
Record: 45-29-8
Playoff seed: WC1 (vs. VGK)

Defense wins championships, and in this case, it’s all the Kings have. Jennings Trophy winner Jonathan Quick and defenseman Drew Doughty are the anchors here, but this team could afford to find a little more offense.

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10. Minnesota Wild
Last week: 9 (-1)
Record: 45-26-11
Playoff seed: C3 (vs. WPG)

Losing defenseman Ryan Suter might be a death knell. It's not his offense—it's simply the work load he takes on: He was second in the league in ice time (26:47). How do you replace those workhorse minutes?

9. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last week: 11 (+2)
Record: 47-29-6
Playoff seed: M2 (vs. PHI)

On paper, this could be the most dangerous team. The Pens have unrivaled center depth, assuming Derick Brassard is healthy (he was a catalyst as a third-line center when the Rangers when to the final in 2014). Up until recently, things have been inconsistent, especially on the back end of things.

8. San Jose Sharks
Last week: 8 (-)
Record: 45-27-10
Playoff seed: P2 (vs. ANA)

Evander Kane has been really good, as has fellow trade deadline acquisition Eric Fehr. Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski have found their games. The Sharks are peaking at the right time.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last week: 7 (-)
Record: 49-26-7
Playoff seed: A3 (vs. BOS)

Mitch Marner is playing really well right now, and so is Auston Matthews (of course). Leafs forwards are fast and roll deep, which should make for a nightmare first-round matchup for the Bruins.

6. Washington Capitals
Last week: 6 (-)
Record: 49-26-7
Playoff seed: M1 (vs. CBJ)

Rotating goalies? Maybe. But right now Philipp Grubauer has earned the starting gig. Can he carry a team deep? It’s time for Evgeny Kuznetsov to shine.

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5. Vegas Golden Knights
Last week: 5 (-)
Record: 51-24-7
Playoff seed: P1 (vs. LAK)

Vegas is happy to be here, but the Golden Knights are ready for more than that. It all comes down to Marc-Andre Fleury. His playoff record is up-and-down.

4. Boston Bruins
Last week: 2 (-2)
Record: 50-20-12
Playoff seed: A2 (vs. TOR)

They’re limping a bit into the playoffs, dealing with the injury bug. But the Bruins are well balanced. Rick Nash, Riley Nash and Sean Kuraly are all expected to be available for the playoffs. The worry? Tuukka Rask has had some down games recently.

3. Winnipeg Jets
Last week: 4 (+1)
Record: 52-20-10
Playoff seed: C2 (vs. MIN)

It’s an explosive offense in Winnipeg. You have to worry about inexperience on defense and in net, but the Jets are heading into the postseason hot. Who wants to face Patrik Laine for up to seven straight games?

2. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last week: 3 (+1)
Record: 54-23-5
Playoff seed: EC1 (vs. NJD)

We'll see if goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has enough in the tank, but when he's on, there are few better. The Bolts have an elite lineup and adding playoff vets like Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Chris Kunitz will pay off.

1. Nashville Predators
Last week: 1 (-)
Record: 53-18-11
Playoff seed: WC1 (vs. COL)

The Predators deserved to win the Presidents’ Trophy. They have unequaled depth, a hot goalie and plenty of playoff experience. They’re easily the favorite heading into the postseason, and they should be. The only weakness is a somewhat middling power play.

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)