- Anything can happen by the time June rolls around, but before it does, we celebrate our favorite time of the year by stacking up all 16 teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The playoffs are upon us and the next two months are guaranteed to be entertaining.
But before the madness commences and first-round surprises bust some brackets, let’s evaluate what we know: Tampa Bay is the favorite; Vegas is one of the hottest teams; so is Washington. The unknowns? San Jose and Calgary. The sleepers? Columbus and St. Louis.
Below is a ranking of the postseason teams as we enter the best part of the NHL season.
16. Colorado Avalanche | Record: 38-30-14 | Playoff Seed: WC2 (vs. CGY)
The Avalanche have the offense to win a series, but probably not the defense to go much past that.
15. Columbus Blue Jackets | Record: 47-31-4 | Playoff Seed: WC2 (vs. TBL)
The Blue Jackets closed out the season on a hot streak and are finally finding their way. But is it too little, too late?
14. Carolina Hurricanes | Record: 46-29-7 | Playoff Seed: WC1 (vs. WSH)
The Hurricanes will surely be the most enjoyable team to watch in Round 1. It’s still a question as to who goes in net with both Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney both playing well.
13. Dallas Stars | Record: 43-32-7 | Playoff Seed: WC2 (vs. NSH)
Dallas has the potential for a deep run, but the Stars need a lot more from Jamie Benn. Getting Mats Zuccarello back will definitely help.
12. St. Louis Blues | Record: 45-28-9 | Playoff Seed: C3 (vs. WPG)
The fate of the Blues all depends on if rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington can continue his epic run.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins | Record: 44-26-12 | Playoff Seed: M3 (vs. NYI)
Pittsburgh may not have enough depth in the bottom half, unless Nick Bjugstad steps up.
10. Nashville Predators | Record: 47-29-6 | Playoff Seed: C1 (vs. DAL)
The Preds had an up-and-down second half, but they have the depth and experience to make another deep run this year.
9. San Jose Sharks | Record: 46-27-9 | Playoff Seed: P2 (vs. VGK)
San Jose is obviously not the same team without Erik Karlsson. If he's truly healthy—and even if he's not—the Sharks could easily make a deep run.
8. New York Islanders | Record: 48-27-7 | Playoff Seed: M2 (vs. PIT)
There will be a lot of close games against the Penguins, but the Islanders have shown the defensive ability to withstand that.
7. Winnipeg Jets | Record: 47-30-5 | Playoff Seed: C2 (vs. STL)
The Jets might be the deepest offensive team, with potentially the most dangerous power play, especially in the West.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs | Record: 46-28-7 | Playoff Seed: A3 (vs. BOS)
It's been an odd second half for the Maple Leafs, but to discount their talent would be a mistake.
5. Vegas Golden Knights | Record: 43-32-7 | Playoff Seed: P3 (vs. SJS)
Hot, deep, experienced. And their goalie gives them a slight edge, potentially, over Calgary.
4. Boston Bruins | Record: 49-24-9 | Playoff Seed: A2 (vs. TOR)
The question here, as always, is secondary scoring (or lack there of), though Jake DeBrusk has quietly had a good year.
3. Washington Capitals | Record: 48-26-8 | Playoff Seed: M2 (vs. CAR)
The Capitals sure look playoff ready. Could very well be second on this list.
2. Calgary Flames | Record: 50-25-7 | Playoff Seed: P1 (vs. COL)
The Flames know how to score. But will they go with David Rittich or Mike Smith in net? That is the biggest question for Calgary.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning | Record: 62-16-4 | Playoff Seed: A1 (vs. CBJ)
The Lightning are the favorites, without question. The thing to look out for is Victor Hedman's health, but otherwise they should be set.