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2023 NHL Playoffs Preview

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Graphic courtesy of nhl.com.

by Ben Wheeler

The NHL playoffs are a few days away. Let’s look at the current standings and preview the upcoming matchups. 

We first look at the Boston Bruins, a team making history all season. Led by veterans Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Boston was thought too old at the season’s beginning. Age hasn’t stopped them though, as the Bruins have steamrolled through everyone this year, finishing the season with 133 points and 22 points ahead of any team in the league, an NHL record. Boston looks to win their first Cup since 2011. 

The Bruins also look to have two award candidates. Boston brought in head coach Jim Montgomery, whose push-forward offense has worked all season, and he is looking to win the Jack Adams Award, given to the coach of the year. David Pastarnak is looking to win his first Hart Trophy, aka MVP, and has been Boston’s best player all season. He has put up 60 goals and 51 assists and has a total of 111 points. Boston also looks to the Vezina Award, aka goalie of the year. Linus Ullmark had a historic season posting a 40-6-1 record, only giving 1.89 goals a game. He will look to remain hot in the playoffs as it takes elite goalkeeping to win a Cup. 

However, Edmonton Oilers’ superstar Connor McDavid has something to say about that. McDavid will win likely his third Hart trophy as he has put up another historic season individually. McDavid has put up 64 goals and 88 assists, totaling 152 points. 

Teams like the reigning NHL champion Colorado Avalanche, led by Nathan McKinnon, look to repeat this year as they are getting healthy at the right time. 

The Rangers and Devils are locked into the playoffs east in the New York area. The Rangers are looking to make another far run this year as they acquired new veteran superstars Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko. The Devils, led by young star Jack Hughes, are looking to make some noise, as they haven’t won a playoff series since 2012. 

Here are the current standings: Boston will play the last remaining wild card team, the underdog and hungry Florida Panthers. Florida, which had the best record last season, will look to shock the world and upset arguably the best regular season team in NHL history.  The Carolina Hurricanes, led by Sebastian Aho, will play the other wild-card team, the New York Islanders. The Toronto Maple Leafs, led by Auston Matthews, will play the Tampa Bay Lightning — a team looking to make it to their fourth Stanley Cup. Lastly, it will be a battle of Jersey versus New York on the eastern side, as the Rangers will face off against the Devils. 

On the western side, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, led by Jack Eichel, will play Connor Hellebuyck and the Winnipeg Jets, the league’s second-best goalie this season. Colorado will play the new Seattle Kraken — making their first playoff appearance in the team’s two-year history. Seattle is led by Matty Beniers, who will likely win Rookie of the Year. The Edmonton Oilers will play the Los Angeles Kings, and finally, Dallas Stars will play the Minnesota Wild.