Penguins to host Flyers in playoff opener tonight

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This is the one that solidifies an opportunity to be one of those 16 playoff teams, and now the page turns really quickly. These teams were only separated by one point in the standings.

That includes the Vegas Golden Knights, the expansion team that incredibly holds the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference after putting up a historic 109-point season. A team this talented should have at least one Stanley Cup to its name, but they've instead turned dashing the dreams of their fans into an art form.

For the Eastern Conference, the simulation predicts the Washington Capitals will finally overcome the Penguins in the second round.

The Avalanche shocked everyone this year just by making the playoffs. Their number this season was just a touch better than the 26.0 the 1995-96 club posted, a group that included Hall of Famers Mario Lemieux and Ron Francis and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.

The Presidents' Trophy-winning Predators beat the Avalanche in all four of their meetings this season.

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The Nashville Predators are the best team in the National Hockey League. Goaltending for Nashville has been an incredible story as Vezina Trophy Finalist: Pekka Rinne has a 42-13 win/loss record.

Watch for Vegas to have playoff success especially if goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is healthy and playing his version of playoff hockey. While his production has slightly faded since his 35 point season with Edmonton a year ago, his combined 23 points between Edmonton and Columbus are decent for a bottom line player.

One in which the erratic Flyers, who endured a 10-game winless streak around Thanksgiving, know they are the underdogs.

Any skepticism surrounding hockey in Las Vegas was squashed by the Knights (51-24-7), who shattered the record for points by a team in its inaugural season and stayed atop a deep division from December 23 onward.

Columbus at Washington, 6:30 p.m. Since 2008, the first year expected goal differential is available, no team appearing in the finals has ranked lower than 20th, with a majority finishing in the top 10. Anyone who bets on this long shot could hit it big. They'll have a tough time winning unless those numbers improve. "Now it's a clean slate; it's a new season and there's a new goal". The Sharks won the season series 4 games to 2 games and outscored the Ducks 18-11 in those 6 games.

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This has to be the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The devil is in the details - there's too much talent and scoring ability on the Lightning for the Devils to answer to. Philadelphia's top unit is undoubtedly risky, with Giroux, Voracek, and Gostisbehere landing seventh, ninth, and 10th, respectively, in regular-season power-play points.

After the regular season, Ian Cole has earned a grade of a B+ level acquisiton; the only thing keeping him from reaching the A level would be his penalties. Goodbye Boston or Tampa Bay. To make things more interesting, the Devils swept the season series from the Lightning and have been red-hot with wins in 10 of their last 14. "But I like our chances if we play some good hockey for 60 minutes, maybe even more".

From the middle of December to the middle of March, there wasn't a hotter team in the league than the Boston Bruins. They recorded the most points in the Eastern Conference, and may try to get this series done as soon as possible. San Jose is concerned with its 1-4-1 finish after an impressive 8-0-1 stretch. Pittsburgh has scored 20 goals in the four games, tallying five goals in each and every contest. Toronto had done well to battle back from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7, but then it all came apart.

If the Flyers pull the upset, it's likely because those top two lines are scoring in bunches.

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The skinny: These teams were involved in a three-way trade with the Ottawa Senators in the fall that moved Kyle Turris from the Senators to the Predators and 19-year-old defenceman Sam Girard from Nashville to Colorado.

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