The NHL has released the schedule for the First Round and it’s go time, baby. After taking a game or two to shake off the cobwebs, these teams were rolling hot and fighting hard through the Qualifying Round and Round Robin play. Some teams secured their spots early, and the day of reckoning on Friday saw five out of six elimination games end in a ticket home. Now the matchups are set, and the official battle for the Stanley Cup begins August 11. UPDATED TUES. AUG. 18
Note: Games may be subject to local blackout restrictions
Tuesday, Aug. 11: Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 1
Thursday, Aug. 13: Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 3
Saturday, Aug. 15: Golden Knights 2, Blackhawks 1
Sunday, Aug. 16: Blackhawks 3, Golden Knights 1
Tuesday, Aug. 18: Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 3
Vegas wins the series 4-1
Whether by virtue of Edmonton just being Edmonton or because their veteran experience pulled through for them, the Blackhawks went from a pipe dream of playoffs to an actual First Round spot. But now they have to face the Golden Knights, who emerged from the Round Robin undefeated after pulling out an overtime victory against the Avalanche. Stellar performances from both Fleury and Lehner have Vegas in a solid position, though the offensive onslaught that Chicago brought out in their Qualifying Round play is nothing to shrug off lightly. It seems inevitable that Vegas will move on, but Chicago might give them quite the beating first.
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Avalanche 3, Coyotes 0
Friday, Aug. 14: Avalanche 3, Coyotes 2
Saturday, Aug. 15: Coyotes 4, Avalanche 2
Monday, Aug. 17: Avalanche 7, Coyotes 1
Wednesday, Aug. 19: Arizona at Colorado – 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Friday, Aug. 21: Colorado at Arizona – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Arizona at Colorado – TBD
Arizona found their legs in the Qualifying Round, but it will take more than that to get them past the Avalanche. The young team from Colorado won their first Round Robin game with 0.1 seconds left on the clock, and steamrolled their regular season nemesis, the Dallas Stars, in a shutout victory. They’ve got the chemistry, the goaltending, and the raw ambition of a team that’s long been considered the underdogs. Arizona is just starting to emerge from their underdog bubble, and it will take more than a few superstars like Hall and Kessel to keep them in the running.
Tuesday, Aug. 11: Flames 3, Stars 2
Thursday, Aug. 13: Stars 5, Flames 4
Friday, Aug. 14: Flames 2, Stars 0
Sunday, Aug. 16: Stars 5, Flames 4 (OT)
Tuesday, Aug. 18: Stars 2, Flames 1
Thursday, Aug. 20: Dallas at Calgary – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Dallas at Calgary – TBD
Calgary tucked away their victory against Winnipeg in a tidy four games, leaving no shortage of carnage in their wake. Everyone knows this is a club that comes out hitting hard, and they play their game by shutting down their opponent’s. If the Stars want to get their weak offense past the wall of Flames, a good place to start might be on the powerplay – because with guys like Lucic and Tkachuk on the roster, you know Calgary won’t be staying out of the box. Dallas will need to rely on their momentum carrying through from the final moments against St. Louis if they want to pull out a series victory.
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Canucks 5, Blues 2
Friday, Aug. 14: Canucks 4, Blues 3 (OT)
Sunday, Aug. 16: Blues 3, Canucks 2 (OT)
Monday, Aug. 17: Blues 3, Canucks 1
Wednesday, Aug. 19: Vancouver at St. Louis, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 21: St. Louis at Vancouver – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
The Blues left the Round Robin play with zero points in their pocket, and the Canucks waltzed out in spectacular fashion, after a bomb from the blue line eliminated Minnesota in OT. Regular season standings aside, this matchup seems to be tipped toward Vancouver. They fought hard to come from behind in that elimination game, and have been doing the gritty work to get things done, while the defending Stanley Cup champs don’t seem to be taking play very seriously. If the Canucks want to pull out the real upset victory, however, they’ll have to solve the puzzle that is Jordan Binnington – easier said than done.
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Flyers 2, Canadiens 1
Friday, Aug. 14: Canadiens 5, Flyers 0
Sunday, Aug. 16: Flyers 1, Canadiens 0
Tuesday, Aug. 18: Flyers 2, Canadiens 0
Wednesday, Aug. 19: Montreal at Philadelphia, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Friday, Aug. 21: Philadelphia at Montreal – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Montreal at Philadelphia – TBD
This matchup is really more like the Flyers vs. Carey Price. After defying the odds to eliminate the Penguins in the Qualifying Round, the Canadiens will need Price to keep up his phenomenal play between the pipes to keep the Flyers out of the net. Philadelphia left the Round Robin looking like their hot streak is set to continue, having kept all three other top-seeded teams to one goal each and bringing home easy victories. Montreal will need to find a way to shut them down if they want to avoid getting trounced right back to the golf course.
Tuesday, Aug. 11: Lightning 3, Blue Jackets 2 (5OT)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Blue Jackets 3, Lightning 1
Saturday, Aug. 15: Lightning 3, Blue Jackets 2
Monday, Aug. 17: Lightning 2, Blue Jackets 1
Wednesday, Aug. 19: Columbus at Tampa Bay, 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Friday, Aug. 21: Tampa Bay at Columbus – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Columbus at Tampa Bay – TBD
I’m sure Tampa Bay is having some sort of nightmare déjà vu with this First Round matchup. It’s guaranteed that nobody on their roster has forgotten the embarrassment of squandering the No. 1 seed after being swept out of the playoffs by Columbus last year, so logic would say there’s no way they’re going to let it happen twice. But then again, we’ve all seen what Columbus is capable of. After battling their way past Toronto for the final qualifying victory, Columbus has their teeth set and looks determined to repeat history.
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Islanders 4, Capitals 2
Friday, Aug. 14: Islanders 5, Capitals 2
Sunday, Aug. 16: Islanders 2, Capitals 1 (OT)
Tuesday, Aug. 18: Capitals 2, Islanders 1
Thursday, Aug. 20: NY Islanders at Washington – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Washington at NY Islanders – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: NY Islanders at Washington – TBD
The Islanders have plenty of reasons to feel confident after their domination of the Panthers in the Qualifying Round. They also have the advantage of insider knowledge coming from Barry Trotz, who coached many of the current Capitals players to their Stanley Cup in 2018. But that also means that Trotz knows just how good they are – and how hard it will be to push past the Capitals for a series victory. The Caps, on the other hand, simply need to stick to their game plan and hope to put enough pucks past Varlamov and the Isles defense to move on.
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 3 (2OT)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Hurricanes 3, Bruins 2
Saturday, Aug. 15: Bruins 3, Hurricanes 1
Monday, Aug. 17: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 3
Wednesday, Aug. 19: Carolina at Boston, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Thursday, Aug. 20: Boston at Carolina – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Carolina at Boston – TBD
Just like the St. Louis Blues, Boston’s No. 1 seed dropped to No. 4 following a lackluster Qualifying Round performance. On the other end of the ice stand the Hurricanes, the only team to sweep their Qualifying Round opponent. This matchup is extra intriguing due to playoff history – Carolina muscled their way from a Wild Card spot to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019 before losing to Boston in a sweep. Young players like Svechnikov and Slavin have been performing beautifully for Carolina, and it doesn’t look like there are any more sweeps on the horizon for Boston. They’ll have to pull their game into high gear if they want to make it out of this series.
Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs starts Tuesday, August 11. For the best coverage of NHL Playoffs on NBCSN, USA, NHL Network and more, sign up for Sling Blue + Sports Extra using the link below!