The Second Season

The second season is finally upon us, as the 2018 edition of the NHL playoffs begin tonight. Three series will kick off tonight’s action, with the remaining five beginning tomorrow. Just over half of last year’s playoff participants are back, including the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, who are looking to become the first team to threepeat since the New York Islanders dynasty of the late 70’s. The Nashville Predators also return to the postseason this year; however, they enter at the top of the Western Conference after becoming the first #16 seed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Other returning clubs in this year’s postseason include the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets, Capitals, Wild, Ducks, and Sharks.

This year, the returning clubs are joined by the likes of the resurgent Colorado Avalanche, back in the show after their disastrous last season in Denver. The surprising Winnipeg Jets are also returning to the postseason, marking only the second time that the club has made the playoffs since moving from Atlanta at the onset of the 2011-2012 season. The Kings, Lightning, Devils, and Flyers are the remainder of the teams returning to the second season, and all look to be strong contenders to advance in their first round series.

Perhaps the most surprising addition to this years playoffs are the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights. The first-year franchise exploded out of the gate and never looked back, winning the Pacific Division this season – the first time an expansion franchise has achieved that accomplishment. It will be interesting to see if their momentum can continue throughout the playoffs.

Not joining the playoff fold this year are the Chicago Blackhawks, who will miss the dance for the first time in 10 years. The Edmonton Oilers also inexplicably failed to make the playoffs despite the otherworldly performance of Connor McDavid this season.

Enough small talk from us – the writers of Win Column Sports have taken a look at the eight first round series of the NHL Playoffs and made their predictions for winners. Take a look on the following two pages!

Don’t forget – there’s still time to join the Win Column playoff bracket on NHL.com! Click HERE to join.

The West

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The Second Season: A Look Ahead at the NHL Playoffs

Spencer Love

Once stood in front of Cedric Alexander in line at a hotel. Slightly big deal.

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