2013 NHL Playoffs First Round — Eastern Conference Preview & Schedule
The first round of the 2013 NHL playoffs starts this week, as 16 teams begin their quest for the Stanley Cup. The Pittsburgh Penguins were the best team in the Eastern Conference, but seven other squads believe they can reach the finals. Here's a preview of the 2013 NHL playoffs' first round match-ups in the Eastern Conference:
All series are best-of-seven.
* — if necessary
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (8) New York Islanders
Even with the compressed 48-game schedule, the Pittsburgh Penguins (36-12-0) were dominant behind the play of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brenden Morrow. Crosby missed the last 12 games due to a broken jaw, but he is expected to play at some point in the NHL playoffs. The New York Islanders (24-17-7) are making their first post-season appearance since 2007. Isles center John Tavares was among the best players in hockey in 2013. The Penguins won the season series between the teams, 4-1.
Game 1 at Pittsburgh: Wed. May 1, 7:30 p.m.; NBC Sports Network
Game 2 at Pittsburgh: Fri. May 3, 7 p.m.; NBC Sports Network
Game 3 at Islanders: Sun. May 5, 12 p.m.; NBC
Game 4 at Islanders: Tues. May 7, 7 p.m.; NBC Sports Network
*Game 5 at Pittsburgh: Thurs. May 9; TBD
*Game 6 at Islanders: Sat. May 11; TBD
*Game 7 at Pittsburgh: Sun. May 12; TBD
(2) Montreal Canadiens vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
The second-seeded Montreal Canadiens (29-14-5) face the rival Ottawa Senators (25-17-6) in what could be a very exciting first-round NHL playoff series. P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov are offensive-minded defensemen on the Montreal back line. Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson was among the league's most consistent goaltenders all season. The teams split their four games during the regular season.
Game 1 at Montreal: Thurs. May 2, 7 p.m.; CNBC
Game 2 at Montreal: Fri. May 3, 7 p.m.; CNBC
Game 3 at Ottawa: Sun. May 5, 12 p.m.; NBC
Game 4 at Ottawa: Tues. May 7, 7 p.m.; CNBC
*Game 5 at Montreal: Thurs. May 9; TBD
*Game 6 at Ottawa: Sat. May 11; TBC
*Game 7 at Montreal: Sun. May 12; TBD
(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) New York Rangers
The third-seeded Washington Capitals (27-18-3) are looking to put a history of playoff failures behind them and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013. Capitals' center Alex Ovechkin is perhaps the NHL's best player at the moment, scoring 22 goals in his final 21 games. The sixth-seeded New York Rangers (26-18-4) counter with experienced goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers won the season series between the teams, 2-0-1.
Game 1 at Washington: Thurs. May 2, 7:30 p.m.; NBC Sports Network
Game 2 at Washington: Sat. May 4, 12:30 p.m.; NBC
Game 3 at Rangers: Mon. May 6, 7:30 p.m.; NBC Sports Network
Game 4 at Rangers: Wed. May 8, 7:30 p.m.; NBC Sports Network
*Game 5 at Washington: Fri. May 10; TBD
*Game 6 at Rangers: Sun. May 12; TBD
*Game 7 at Washington: Mon. May 13; TBD
(4) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Toronto Maple Leafs
Two storied NHL franchises face-off in the NHL playoffs, as the Boston Bruins (28-14-6) take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (26-17-5), who are in the postseason for the first time since 2004. Vezina Trophy candidate Tuukka Rask is a big plus for the Bruins in net. Right wing Phil Kessel led the Maple Leafs with 52 points in the regular season. Boston won the season series between the teams, 3-1.
Game 1 at Boston: Wed. May 1, 7 p.m.; CNBC
Game 2 at Boston: Sat. May 4, 7 p.m.; CNBC
Game 3 at Toronto: Mon. May 6, 7 p.m.; NHL Network
Game 4 at Toronto: Wed. May 8, 7 p.m.; NHL Network
*Game 5 at Boston: Fri. May 10; TBD
*Game 6 at Toronto: Sun. May 12; TBD
*Game 7 at Boston: Mon. May 13; TBD