The first spherical of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are about to start, and which means every night time can be loaded with motion. With a lot hockey on day-after-day, it may be laborious to know the place to focus your consideration.
That’s why we’ve got put collectively an inventory rating every first-round sequence by leisure worth. At the highest of the record, you may discover a rivalry between two contenders, a staff making an attempt to recover from the hump, and a conflict of very totally different play kinds.
While some sequence could have a bit of extra intrigue than others, all playoff hockey is nice playoff hockey. Stanley Cup Playoff video games cannot be taken without any consideration as a result of they will be gone in simply a few months. Try to observe as many of those as potential.
If it’s important to prioritize some sequence over the others, right here is every first-round matchup ranked by leisure worth.
8. Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders
If you are somebody who enjoys low-scoring playoff duels, you may slot this sequence a bit of bit greater. These groups do not thoughts taking their justifiable share of level pictures, and goaltenders like Ilya Sorokin and Frederik Andersen can have no downside smothering these. The different subject right here is that Carolina is down a few stars in Max Pacioretty and Andrei Svechnikov. What makes this sequence fascinating are the stakes. The Hurricanes are on the lookout for the deep postseason run that has eluded them for a couple of seasons, and the Islanders did some spending earlier than the commerce deadline to be extra aggressive within the Eastern Conference.
7. Colorado Avalanche vs. Seattle Kraken
It can be superior to see playoff hockey in Seattle, and the environment in Climate Pledge Arena alone will make this sequence enjoyable to observe. The Avalanche are nonetheless loaded with elite expertise as they pursue their second consecutive Stanley Cup, and the Kraken have taken an enormous step ahead after their disastrous inaugural season. The solely subject right here is that there’s at the very least a good likelihood of a sweep. Colorado remains to be a juggernaut, even with out Gabriel Landeskog, and Seattle may battle to hold round in a seven-game sequence.
6. Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets
There is not precisely a longtime rivalry right here, and this sequence will not be loaded with the identical quantity of starpower seen in others. Having stated that, there’s a lot to love about this matchup. Jack Eichel is making his postseason debut, and the stress can be on him to ship for the Golden Knights. It will assist if Mark Stone is ready to return from harm in time for Game 1. Winnipeg enters the playoffs after simply hanging on to the ultimate wild card spot, and there may be all the time a good likelihood that Connor Hellebuyck places on a present. On the floor, this may look like a mismatch, however I feel there’s a first rate likelihood of an upset.
5. Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild
There ought to be a good quantity of animosity between these two division rivals, there are some underrated stars on each rosters. Jason Robertson has develop into top-of-the-line scorers within the league, and Kirill Kaprizov is able to doing one thing particular each time he touches the puck. It’s additionally price maintaining a tally of any potential drama in objective for the Wild. Filip Gustavsson ought to begin Game 1 for Minnesota, however Marc-Andre Fleury can be ready within the wings if issues do not go properly. The one disadvantage on this sequence, in my view, is that the Stars may make it a fast one as a result of they’ve seemed just like the superior staff for a lot of the 12 months.
4. Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers
This sequence is fascinating as a result of it has the potential to get sideways. The Bruins may — and possibly ought to — dispatch of of the Panthers with relative ease. However, there’s a state of affairs the place Florida is ready to give Boston some bother. After NHL information by profitable 64 video games and amassing 135 factors, the Bruins are dealing with plenty of stress to maintain that going within the playoffs. The Panthers are taking part in with home cash, they usually appeared to be peaking towards the tip of the common season. Those are substances for what could possibly be an enormous upset. Add within the starpower supplied by Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand, and this sequence ought to be entertaining, regardless of how lengthy it goes.
3. Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings
These two groups matched up within the first spherical final season, they usually produced a back-and-forth sequence that went the gap. Since then, the Oilers and Kings have each improved, and the conflict of competing kinds can be enjoyable to observe. Edmonton, with Connor McDavid main the way in which, loves to attain objectives early and sometimes. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is without doubt one of the finest groups within the NHL at stopping its opponents from scoring. Which staff will power the opposite one to play its type of hockey? That would be the massive query when the puck drops in Game 1.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Let’s face it. There is a component of schadenfreude in the case of watching the Maple Leafs within the postseason. TV scores in Montreal and Boston are in all probability by way of the roof as these followers tune in to see how far Sisyphus can rise up the hill earlier than the rock rolls backward on him. Toronto distress apart, that is only a matchup of two nice hockey groups. The Maple Leafs have a couple of of the most effective gamers on this planet with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander of their prime. On the opposite facet, the Lightning are attempting to achieve the Stanley Cup Final for the fourth straight season, which hasn’t occurred because the New York Islanders’ dynastic run within the Nineteen Eighties.
1. New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers
As somebody who grew up in a “small” or “non-traditional” hockey market, it does harm me a bit of bit to place this matchup on the prime of the record, however I can not assist it. This sequence has all of it. Both groups have stars up and down the lineup. Both groups have reputable Stanley Cup aspirations. Both groups spent massive to make splashes on the commerce deadline. Both groups have rabid fan bases, and they don’t like one another. There must be extra hate in skilled sports activities, and we should always get a few of that with the Rangers and Devils all up in one another’s grill for seven video games. If you possibly can solely watch one sequence, be certain it is this one.
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