Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Full Schedule, TV Info and Predictions

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 24: Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in action against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at the Prudential Center on March 24, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Grow out those beards, everyone, it's time for playoff hockey, with the postseason beginning on Wednesday.

And you don't want to miss a goal, check or face scrub. Below we'll break down the first-round schedule, television information and some of the prediction archetypes you can follow as you try to determine this year's Stanley Cup winner.

Games will be broadcast on NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC, USA, NHL Network and NBC Sports' website, as well as Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet One, CBC, GOLF and TVA Sports. The schedule is per NHL.com.

             

Schedule and Television Information

Western Conference: Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche

Game 1: Avalanche at Predators on Thursday, April 12 at 9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

Game 2: Avalanche at Predators on Saturday, April 14 at 3 p.m. ET; NBC, CNBC, SN, TVA Sports

Game 3: Predators at Avalanche on Monday, April 16 at 10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

Game 4: Predators at Avalanche on Wednesday, April 18 at 10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

*Game 5: Avalanche at Predators on Friday, April 20 at TBD

*Game 6: Predators at Avalanche on Sunday, April 22 at TBD

*Game 7: Avalanche at Predators on Tuesday, April 24 at TBD

        

Western Conference: Winnipeg Jets vs. Minnesota Wild

Game 1: Wild at Jets on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, CNBC

Game 2: Wild at Jets on Friday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, USA

Game 3: Jets at Wild on Sunday, April 15 at 7 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVA Sports

Game 4: Jets at Wild on Tuesday, April 17 at 8 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports

*Game 5: Wild at Jets on Friday, April 20 at TBD

*Game 6: Jets at Wild on Sunday, April 22 at TBD

*Game 7: Wild at Jets on Wednesday, April 25 at TBD

          

Western Conference: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Los Angeles Kings

Game 1: Kings at Golden Knights on Wednesday, April 11 at 10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Game 2: Kings at Golden Knights on Friday, April 13 at 10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Game 3: Golden Knights at Kings on Sunday, April 15 at 10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Game 4: Golden Knights at Kings on Tuesday, April 17 at 10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Game 5: Kings at Golden Knights on Thursday, April 19 at 10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Game 6: Golden Knights at Kings on Saturday, April 21 at TBD

*Game 7: Kings at Golden Knights on Monday, April 23 at TBD

          

Western Conference: Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks

Game 1: Sharks at Ducks on Thursday, April 12 at 10:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVA Sports

Game 2: Sharks at Ducks on Saturday, April 14 at 10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports

Game 3: Ducks at Sharks on Monday, April 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN1, TVA Sports

Game 4: Ducks at Sharks on Wednesday, April 18 at 10:30 p.m. ET; GOLF, SN1, TVA Sports

*Game 5: Sharks at Ducks on Friday, April 20 at TBD

*Game 6: Ducks at Sharks on Sunday, April 22 at TBD

*Game 7: Sharks at Ducks on Tuesday, April 24 at TBD

          

Eastern Conference: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Game 1: Blue Jackets at Capitals on Thursday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVA Sports

Game 2: Blue Jackets at Capitals on Sunday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports

Game 3: Capitals at Blue Jackets on Tuesday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports

Game 4: Capitals at Blue Jackets on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVA Sports

*Game 5: Blue Jackets at Capitals on Saturday, April 21 at TBD

*Game 6: Capitals at Blue Jackets on Monday, April 23 at TBD

*Game 7: Blue Jackets at Capitals on Wednesday, April 25 at TBD

          

Eastern Conference: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Game 1: Flyers at Penguins on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Game 2: Flyers at Penguins on Friday, April 13 at 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Game 3: Penguins at Flyers on Sunday, April 15 at 3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports

Game 4: Penguins at Flyers on Wednesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Game 5: Flyers at Penguins on Friday, April 20 at TBD

*Game 6: Penguins at Flyers on Sunday, April 22 at TBD

*Game 7: Flyers at Penguins on Tuesday, April 24 at TBD

           

Eastern Conference: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils

Game 1: Devils at Lightning on Thursday, April 12 at 7 p.m. ET; NHL Network, SN, TVA Sports

Game 2: Devils at Lightning on Saturday, April 14 at 3 p.m. ET; NBC, CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports

Game 3: Lightning at Devils on Monday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports

Game 4: Lightning at Devils on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET; GOLF, SN, TVA Sports

*Game 5: Devils at Lightning on Saturday, April 21 at TBD

*Game 6: Lightning at Devils on Monday, April 23 at TBD

*Game 7: Devils at Lightning on Wednesday, April 25 at TBD

           

Eastern Conference: Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Game 1: Maple Leafs at Bruins on Thursday, April 12 at 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Game 2: Maple Leafs at Bruins on Saturday, April 14 at 8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports

Game 3: Bruins at Maple Leafs on Monday, April 16 at 7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN

Game 4: Bruins at Maple Leafs on Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN

*Game 5: Maple Leafs at Bruins on Saturday, April 21 at TBD

*Game 6: Bruins at Maple Leafs on Monday, April 23 at TBD

*Game 7: Maple Leafs at Bruins on Wednesday, April 25 at TBD

*If necessary

              

Prediction Archetypes

The 'Postseason Pedigree' Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins

If you want to go with the obvious and safe pick, just stick with the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of the past two titles. All they have going for them is Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, along with a supporting cast that includes Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang.

Like most teams, the Penguins will only go as far as their goalie can take them, and Matt Murray has generally been a disappointment in 2017-18. The Penguins have a habit of finding another gear come the postseason, but Murray's up-and-down play could be their kryptonite this time around.

             

The 'Go with the Best Goalie' Prediction: Nashville Predators

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 19:  Goaltender Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks on against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on February 19, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/NHL/Getty Images)
Ronald C. Modra/NHL/Getty Images

You probably know this by now, but Pekka Rinne is great, the sort of goalie who could carry a team through the postseason. It helps that a fantastic defense, led by P.K. Subban, and a balanced group of forwards have supported him.

The Nashville Predators have been the class of the Western Conference (and arguably the NHL) all season long, but their success depends on Rinne. At the very least, expect him to steal a few games for Nashville in the postseason.

         

The 'Surely This Is Their Year, Right?' Prediction: Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin has achieved just about everything imaginable in his career except for the thing he likely cares about most: winning the Stanley Cup. Year in and year out, the Washington Capitals seem to be contenders. But year in and year out, they fall short in the postseason.

In fact, Ovechkin hasn't so much as reached the Eastern Conference Final.

The Capitals are a threat again this year, though the same old question looms: Will they choke when it matters most?

          

The 'Feelgood Story' Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 31:  (L-R) Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee and Chairman, CEO and Governor Bill Foley present William Karlsson #71 with the Vegas Golden Knights Seventh Player Award, given to the player whose performance most excee
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

How in the world did an expansion team clinch its division? How is it possibly a Stanley Cup contender?

It confounds the mind, but here we are. In their first season of existence, the Vegas Golden Knights are legitimate title contenders.

Having a goalie playing at an elite level in Marc-Andre Fleury helps. Having an excellent forward pair of William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault is nice too. Maybe Vegas doesn't have the top-to-bottom star power to win the Cup this year, but man, it's sure gotten off to a nice start to its existence.

            

The 'They Basically Do Everything Well' Prediction: Boston Bruins

They've got the goalie (Tuukka Rask). They have three forwards with 30 or more goals (Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron). They are dangerous on the power play and stingy on the penalty kill.

Oh, and they have been one of the best teams in the NHL this year despite dealing with a number of injuries. And now they are getting healthy at the perfect time.

You could probably put a few other teams in this category as well, including the Winnipeg Jets. But as well-rounded teams go, the Bruins earn top marks.

                 

The 'Young Guns About to Make a Run' Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 2:  William Nylander #29 and Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs chat during a timeout against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on April 2, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defe
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Mitchell Marner and Auston Matthews are 20. William Nylander is 21. Morgan Rielly and Connor Brown are 24. The Toronto Maple Leafs feel like they are probably a year or two away, but sometimes, those teams make a run earlier than expected.

The Maple Leafs could be that team.

Granted, they will probably be reliant on goalie Frederik Andersen—who has been inconsistent this season—takes them. But don't be shocked if Marner, Matthews and Nylander put on a show.

             

The Actual Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning

On one hand, the Tampa Bay Lightning are an easy pick.

They have the league's best offense, arguably its scariest power play and the most dangerous top line in hockey (Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat). It has a team chock-full of postseason experience, most notably its five former New York Rangers (Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman, Ryan Callahan and J.T. Miller, and three of them played in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final).

On the other hand, there are question marks. The defense has been suspect at times, with the Lightning hoping the pairing of Girardi and McDonagh can regain their New York magic.

And the biggest question mark is goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was superb for much of the season but has slumped of late. If he regains the form that made him an early Vezina Trophy candidate, Tampa Bay will be tough to beat.

Even if he isn't elite, Tampa's devastating offense is enough to lead the team on a deep run. No other team has the upside of Tampa. If everything clicks, nobody is beating the Lightning.

Related

    Panarin Won't Talk Business with Blue Jackets Once Camp Begins

    NHL logo
    NHL

    Panarin Won't Talk Business with Blue Jackets Once Camp Begins

    Msn
    via Msn

    Jagr Hits Ice with Kladno, Eyes Return This Season

    NHL logo
    NHL

    Jagr Hits Ice with Kladno, Eyes Return This Season

    Sean Leahy
    via ProHockeyTalk

    Chelios Leaving Wings to Spend More Time with Family

    NHL logo
    NHL

    Chelios Leaving Wings to Spend More Time with Family

    NHL.com
    via NHL.com

    Ovechkin Wins ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete

    NHL logo
    NHL

    Ovechkin Wins ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report