2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round 1

Joseph Edwards, Staff Writer

Paper Lion staff writer Joe Edwards updates readers on the first round of the NHL playoffs. 

Panthers vs. Bruins

The Boston Bruins are coming into the playoffs with the most points in a season in NHL history.  The Panthers snuck into the second wild card position on the last day of the season. The Bruins are heavily favored in the series and they will love having home ice advantage throughout the entire playoffs.  Update: The Bruins blew a 3-1 series lead and lost to the Panthers at home, with Carter Vergaeghe’s overtime game-winning goal in the ninth minute. Many people believe that the Bruins experienced the President’s Trophy Curse. Only two of the past twenty President’s Trophy Winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. Only one of the last ten winners have made it to the second round of the playoffs.

Rangers vs. Devils

The Devils finished third in the Metropolitan Division and they are facing the third place division rival Rangers.  This is the first time the two have played each other since 2012. These teams have played each other many times in the playoffs in the past thirty years and the rivals finally get to clash in the playoffs after a ten year hiatus. Update: The series went to seven games with the Devils coming out on top and shutting out the Rangers 4-0 in game seven at home.  

Islanders vs. Hurricanes

The Islanders are another team that snuck into the playoffs. The Islanders are entering the series as the first wild card team in the Eastern Conference and had 93 points in the regular season.  They are playing the Metropolitan Division Champions, the Carolina Hurricanes, who earned 113 points in the regular season.  The Islanders lucked out this year with the Penguins missing out on the playoffs by two points for their first season without making the playoffs since 2006. Update: The Hurricanes took the series 4-2.

Lightning vs. Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs finished 2nd in the Atlantic Division and are taking on the rival Lightning, who made it to the Stanley Cup Final last year.  The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021 and are trying to win the cup for the third time in the last four seasons, attempting to earn “Dynasty” status.  The Maple Leafs are trying to advance to at least the second round, which they haven’t done since the 2004 season.  This is the second year in a row that the two have played each other in the first round of the playoffs; the Lightning won the series in seven games in 2022.  Update: The Maple Leafs came out victorious with a 4-2 series win.

Kraken vs. Avalanche

The Seattle Kraken is the NHL’s newest team, which only came into the league during the 2021-22 season.  This year is the first time they have made the playoffs in franchise history.  The Kraken will be playing the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche.  Colorado has lost a few good players though. Their Captain, 30-year old Gabriel Landeskog, announced that he will be missing the entire playoffs with a knee injury, the same injury that has made him miss the entire 2022-23 regular season. They also lost Nazeem Kadri to free agency when he signed with the Calgary Flames last summer.  Update: The Kraken took the series 4-3 in 7 games. 

Kings vs. Oilers

The Los Angeles Kings finished in third in the Pacific Division with 104 points.  They are taking on the division rival Oilers, who finished in second with 109 points.  The Oilers are coming into the series with the best power play in the history of the league at 32.4%.  The previous best power play percentage was accomplished by the Montreal Canadians when they had a power play of 31.4% during the 1977-78 season.  Update: The Oilers won the series in 6 games, 4-2.

Jets vs. Golden Knights

The Jets just barely snuck into the playoffs as the last wildcard spot in the Western Conference and finished with 95 points.  The Golden Knights finished first in the Western Conference with 111 points on the season.  In the season series, the Golden Knights beat the Jets twice, and lost once.  The Knights earned 4 points against the Jets in the regular season, while the Jets only earned 3 points in the three contests.  As of the time of publication, the Knights are up 3-1 and game 5 is in Las Vegas. Update: The Golden Knights won the series 4-1. 

Wild vs. Stars

The Wild finished with 103 points in the regular season which was good for third in the Central Division, and are playing their division rivals, the Dallas Stars who finished second in the Central Division and earned 108 points during the regular season. In the four games that the two played each other during the regular season, they each split two games and each earned four points from the four games. This series will definitely show great goaltending. The Wild’s goalie, Filip Gustavsson, had a .931 save percentage during the regular season which was second in the league.  Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger finished the regular season with a .919 save percentage, which was good for seventh in the league.  It will be an extremely fun series for goalie lovers to watch.  Currently, the Stars have a 3-2 lead in the season. Update: Stars take the series 4-2.