Wednesday marks the start of the 2017 NHL playoffs, and games will come down the pipe at a fast and furious pace as the first round begins.
Specifically, the puck will drop on five different contests Wednesday before the first-round's final three series get underway Thursday.
So as things get ready to roll, here's an overview of this year's postseason bracket, courtesy of the NHL's official Twitter account:
Every team has a shot in the #StanleyCup Playoffs. Who you got? Fill out your #NHLBracket before Round 1 begins: https://t.co/vPSUWfH2Uo https://t.co/13JU0U02c92017-4-11 21:40:32
And here's a rundown of the entire Round 1 schedule, complete with start times and viewing information, via NHL.com.
|2017 NHL Playoff Schedule: Round 1|
|Game 1||New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens||Wednesday, April 12||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 2||New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens||Friday, April 14||7 p.m.||USA|
|Game 3||Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers||Sunday, April 16||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 4||Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers||Tuesday, April 18||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 5*||New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens||Thursday, April 20||TBD||TBD|
|Game 6*||Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers||Saturday, April 22||TBD||TBD|
|Game 7*||New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens||Monday, April 24||TBD||TBD|
|Game 1||Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators||Wednesday, April 12||7 p.m.||NHL Network|
|Game 2||Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators||Sunday, April 15||3 p.m.||NBC|
|Game 3||Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators||Monday, April 17||7 p.m.||CNBC|
|Game 4||Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins||Wednesday, April 19||7:30 p.m.||USA|
|Game 5*||Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators||Friday, April 21||TBD||TBD|
|Game 6*||Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators||Sunday, April 23||TBD||TBD|
|Game 7*||Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators||Wednesday, April 26||TBD||TBD|
|Game 1||Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals||Thursday, April 13||7 p.m.||USA|
|Game 2||Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals||Saturday, April 15||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 3||Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs||Monday, April 17||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 4||Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs||Wednesday, April 19||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 5*||Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals||Friday, April 21||TBD||TBD|
|Game 6*||Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs||Sunday, April 23||TBD||TBD|
|Game 7*||Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals||Tuesday, April 25||TBD||TBD|
|Game 1||Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins||Wednesday, April 12||7:30 p.m.||USA|
|Game 2||Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins||Friday, April 14||7 p.m.||NHL Network|
|Game 3||Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets||Sunday, April 16||6 p.m.||CNBC|
|Game 4||Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets||Tuesday, April 18||7:30 p.m.||CNBC|
|Game 5*||Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins||Thursday, April 20||TBD||TBD|
|Game 6*||Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets||Sunday, April 23||TBD||TBD|
|Game 7*||Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins||Tuesday, April 25||TBD||TBD|
|Game 1||Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks||Thursday, April 13||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 2||Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks||Saturday, April 15||8 p.m.||NBC|
|Game 3||Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators||Monday, April 17||9:30 p.m.||CNBC|
|Game 4||Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators||Thursday, April 20||TBD||TBD|
|Game 5*||Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks||Saturday, April 22||TBD||TBD|
|Game 6*||Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators||Monday, April 24||TBD||TBD|
|Game 7*||Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks||Wednesday, April 26||TBD||TBD|
|Game 1||St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild||Wednesday, April 12||9:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 2||St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild||Friday, April 14||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 3||Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues||Sunday, April 16||3 p.m.||NBC|
|Game 4||Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues||Wednesday, April 19||9:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 5*||St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild||Saturday, April 22||TBD||TBD|
|Game 6*||Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues||Monday, April 24||TBD||TBD|
|Game 7*||St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild||Wednesday, April 26||TBD||TBD|
|Game 1||Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks||Thursday, April 13||10:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 2||Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks||Saturday, April 15||10:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 3||Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames||Monday, April 17||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 4||Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames||Wednesday, April 19||10 p.m.||USA|
|Game 5*||Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks||Friday, April 21||TBD||TBD|
|Game 6*||Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames||Sunday, April 23||TBD||TBD|
|Game 7*||Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks||Tuesday, April 25||TBD||TBD|
|Game 1||San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers||Wednesday, April 12||10 p.m.||USA|
|Game 2||San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers||Friday, April 14||10:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 3||Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks||Sunday, April 16||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 4||Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks||Tuesday, April 18||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Game 5*||San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers||Thursday, April 20||TBD||TBD|
|Game 6*||Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks||Saturday, April 22||TBD||TBD|
|Game 7*||San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers||Monday, April 24||TBD||TBD|
|Source: NHL.com; * denotes if necessary|
Below, you'll find a few predictions specific to first-round action as the chase for the Stanley Cup gets set to heat up Wednesday evening.
Prediction No. 1: Penguins Scrape Past the Blue Jackets in 7 Games
Evgeni Malkin will return to the ice for the first time since March 15 when the Pittsburgh Penguins open the playoffs Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Sam Werner, but the defending Stanley Cup champions figure to be in for a fight in Round 1.
Although Malkin will be back and ready to serve as half of a lethal one-two punch with Sidney Crosby, the Penguins will be short-handed with Chris Kunitz and Carl Hagelin nursing lower-body injuries. Factor in Kris Letang's absence due to a herniated disc in his neck and the Pens will have to hunker down in order to keep the Blue Jackets' sixth-ranked scoring attack at bay.
"The list of recent Stanley Cup winners without a dominant No. 1 defenseman is short," ESPN.com's Craig Custance wrote. "It's hard to see the Penguins repeating without Letang because he was so key to their win last spring."
In a series that should be hotly contested, don't be surprised if the Penguins are pushed to the brink by a hungry Blue Jackets team.
Prediction No. 2: Connor McDavid Scores 10 Points in Round 1
There was no stopping Connor McDavid during the regular season.
Appearing in all 82 games, the 20-year-old wunderkind scored 30 goals and doled out 70 assists en route to a league-best 100 points and this year's Art Ross Trophy.
Now headed into his first postseason series, McDavid is primed to pile up even more points against a San Jose Sharks team that finished the regular season with losses in nine of its final 13 games—including two against Edmonton.
In those games, McDavid combined to register four points. On the year, he racked up eight points in five contests against the Sharks.
"He's so fast, so skilled," Sharks forward Jannik Hansen said, per the Mercury News' Curtis Pashelka. "You want to make sure that he doesn't get easy opportunities, odd-man rushes—make sure he's coming through three or four guys."
Now entering a series that could span six or seven games, McDavid should flirt with double-digit points as Edmonton eyes its first postseason series win since 2006.
Prediction No. 3: Capitals Sweep Maple Leafs
Once again, the Washington Capitals are entering the playoffs tethered to high expectations.
Fresh off a second consecutive Presidents' Trophy, Barry Trotz's club owns the second-best Stanley Cup title odds (plus-450; bet $100 to win $450) among all postseason qualifiers and the top odds among Eastern Conference clubs, according to OddsShark.
But in order to make good on their status as premier title contenders, the Caps will have to start out with a bang.
Fortunately for the Metropolitan Division champions, the stars seem to be aligning for a swift first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs—who are making their second playoff appearance since 2003-04.
Not only did the Capitals take two of three games against the Maple Leafs this past year, but Alex Ovechkin started to heat up as the regular season came to a close. NHL.com's Tom Gulitti wrote:
He had 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in the final 15 regular-season games and averaged 4.6 shots on goal per game over the past 18 games after averaging 3.6 in the first 64. To keep Ovechkin fresh for the playoffs, coach Barry Trotz trimmed his ice time from 20:18 per game last season to 18:21 per game this season.
And while it would be easy for the Capitals to overlook the Maple Leafs because of their youth, they appear to be in the right frame of mind as Game 1 approaches Thursday evening at Verizon Center.
"They can create stuff," Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said, per Gulitti. "They can score. They make quick plays around the net. They can skate. So we're going to have to be on our toes all over the rink, but they have some dangerous people."
Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner will try and shake the Capitals' resolve, but Washington finally appears primed for the deep run that has proved elusive since Ovechkin joined the team in 2005.