Bruins v.s. Panthers
Going into this series, the Boston Bruins just achieved the most successful National Hockey League season of all time. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers were the last team to gain a spot in the playoffs, finishing the regular season with just 92 points. After watching the Bruins in the regular season, most fans decided they were their favorites to win the Stanley Cup, however, the Panthers had other plans. The series started off split in Boston and ultimately stayed that way up until game seven on April 30th. The game seven thriller came down to a last-minute goal from the Panthers by defenseman Brandon Montour, and, on top of that, an overtime (O.T.) game-winner from center Carter Verhaeghe. The Panthers stunned the world, forcing the Bruins to exit the playoffs in the first round.
Maple Leafs v.s. Lightning
The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning both had impressive resumes going into the series. The Leafs were one of the original six teams in the NHL and the Lightning had won two of the last three Stanley Cups. The Lightning opened up the series with a 7-3 victory in Toronto, yet, the Leafs took over from there, winning four of the next five games and securing a spot in the second round of the playoffs. Leafs’ right-wing Mitchell Marner was the cornerstone of their victory, accumulating a total of 11 points in the series.
Stars v.s Wild
The Dallas Stars and the Minnesota Wild were two teams that had gone back and forth throughout the regular season splitting their series at 2-2, so, there was a lot on the line in this round-one matchup. The Wild won game one in a double O.T. thriller and many fans thought that it would foreshadow what was to come in the rest of the series. However, the Stars’ combination of left-wing Roope Hintz and goalie Jake Oettinger was too much for the Wild to handle. Oettinger posted one of three shutouts in round one of the playoffs, and the Stars won the series in six games.
Avalanche v.s. Kraken
The reigning champs v.s. the expansion team. The Colorado Avalanche, coming off of their 2022 title, had many fans thinking they had a chance to repeat their success, especially since their round one matchup was against a team founded two years ago and playing in its first-ever series. The series went back and forth much like the Bruins-Panthers one had, and it all came down to game seven in Colorado. The Seattle Kraken, led by right-wing Oliver Bjorkstrand’s two goals, sent home the reigning champs along with winning their franchise’s first series.
Oilers v.s. Kings
The Edmonton Oilers are one of the most complete teams in hockey. The combination of center Connor McDavid along with center Leon Draisaitl is not one many teams can stop, and that was proven by the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings started off strong in game one, but it all went downhill from there. The Oilers’ dynamic duo accumulated a total of 21 points, including 10 goals, throughout the series and paved the way for their team to handily defeat the Kings in six games.
Golden Knights v.s Jets
Everyone knew how this series would go, and they were right. Fans following the Las Vegas Golden Knights throughout the regular season knew that the Winnipeg Jets were no match for their well-rounded team, and the Golden Knights played like it. The Golden Knights were the only team to win a series in less than six games, sending a message to their future opponents that they were not going to be an easy team to beat.
Hurricanes v.s. Islanders
The NHL’s second-best team looked to continue their impressive season by defeating the New York Islanders in the process. The Carolina Hurricanes were without a doubt the second-best team this year, and while they had a few injuries to their roster, such as all-star right-wing Andrei Svechnikov’s torn ACL, they were still considered to be the favorites in the series. The Canes and Islanders went back and forth throughout the series, but in game six, down 1-0, late in the third period, Canes’ center Sebastian Aho netted the tying goal, and a few minutes later, Canes’ center Paul Stastny scored the O.T. winner.
Devils v.s. Rangers
The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers were two teams that played each other quite a bit during the regular season and were set to face off in round one. During the season, the Devils had the upper hand, winning three of their four matchups, however, the Rangers would not let that be the case for the playoffs. The series came down to a game seven matchup where the Devils won 4-0, posting two shutouts in their last three games of the season.