The NHL Playoffs are finally here. And that means two straight months of nonstop, end-to-end – and often gut-wrenching, depending on your perspective – hockey action. The race for the Stanley Cup has seemed particularly wide open all season, and that’s reflected in a collection of first-round matchups where virtually any team could advance.
The top-ranked clubs are facing off with some of the hottest teams in the game right now, while teams that may have surprised some people simply by making it to the postseason drew opponents in the exact same position. With perennial powers like the Kings and Bruins watching from home, there’s almost a sense of a changing of the guard, with some new teams ready to make their mark.
Of course, the Red Wings are present and accounted for in the postseason for roughly the 729th consecutive season, so some things never change.
The following is a quick look at each series from the opening round, ranked (in reverse order) on intrigue and overall intensity in the series. It should be noted though, that you could certainly move some of these around, based on personal preference. Because they’re all pretty exciting this year.