The Stanley Cup Playoffs are approaching faster than Connor McDavid on a breakaway. Buckle up!
The always-enthralling Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in less than a week, with postseason action set to kick off next Wednesday, April 11. The Penguins are back and searching for their third title in a row, but they will have no shortage of competition: There are the established contenders (Predators, Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Sharks), plenty of upstarts most wouldn't have expected to be competing for the Cup this time last year (Jets, Avalanche, Devils) and one team that didn't even exist this time last year (Golden Knights). We're in for a great show.
Here are the playoff matchups and clinching scenarios for Friday, April 6:
[* denotes clinched playoff berth]
A1) Tampa Bay Lightning* (53-23-4) vs. WC2) Philadelphia Flyers (41-26-14)
A2) Boston Bruins* (49-19-12) vs. A3) Toronto Maple Leafs* (48-26-7)
M1) Washington Capitals* (48-26-7) vs. WC1) New Jersey Devils* (44-28-9)
M2) Pittsburgh Penguins* (46-29-6) vs. M3) Columbus Blue Jackets* (45-29-7)
In the hunt: Florida Panthers
C1) Nashville Predators* (52-18-11) vs. WC2) Colorado Avalanche (42-30-9)
C2) Winnipeg Jets* (51-20-10) vs. C3) Minnesota Wild* (44-26-11)
P1) Vegas Golden Knights* (51-23-7) vs. WC1) Anaheim Ducks* (42-25-13)
P2) San Jose Sharks* (45-26-10) vs. P3) Los Angeles Kings* (45-28-8)
In the hunt: St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars
Friday's games won't help any teams lock up a spot in the playoffs, but results over the next few days will help determine who is in and who is out.