Baseball’s still postponing games due to snow, so that must mean it’s the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!
Eight teams from the East, eight from the West in a series of best-of-seven rounds to determine who will be left in the end to battle in the Stanley Cup Final. Tied with the NBA, the sixteen team playoff field is the largest of the big four sports, leading to 64 possible matchups in the Stanley Cup Final. Because I’m a madman, I’ve charted all 64 of these possibilities — much like I did for the 2017 World Series and Super Bowl LII, this however was a much larger field.
Here they all are, click the graphic for a much larger version of the image.
If you do plan on sharing this on social media, please link back to the post here rather than just the image. I’d appreciate that, thanks! We’ll update this graphic after each round, follow along and watch as the options dwindle until we’re left with just whatever ends up being the final.
So, some random fun things (fun to me, anyways):
The Western Conference side of the bracket contains only one team* that existed before 1991 (Los Angeles Kings, 1967), two if you really wanna count the Winnipeg Jets. (*-Look, I said ‘team’, not ‘franchise’, I’m obviously fully aware that the Avs franchise played their first NHL season in 1912 as the Tallahassee Shuttlecocks).
The only “Original Six” team in the West, the Chicago Blackhawks, failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008 so there will definitely not be an O6 final this year. The Maple Leafs and Bruins are the only two from that group to qualify and naturally they’ll be facing each other in round one.
Since 1995, every team to win the Stanley Cup has either worn a shade of black or red as their regular dark uniform colour; if this trend were to continue for a 23rd consecutive season (seriously?!) your 2018 Stanley Cup champion will be one of these eight: Colorado, Vegas, Los Angeles, Anaheim, New Jersey, Boston, Washington, or Pittsburgh.
Speaking of Vegas, the Golden Knights are the first NHL team to qualify for the playoffs in their expansion season since the Hartford Whalers and Edmonton Oilers both did so in 1979-80 (yes, they were officially “expansion teams”, look it up!). The 1967-68 St. Louis Blues are the last expansion team to make the Stanley Cup Final in their first year, but you could throw a big ole asterisk on that one. The Toronto Hockey Club (now Maple Leafs) in 1917-18 are the only NHL team to win the Stanley Cup in their franchise’s first season. “An expansion team winning the Cup?! Yeah, maybe once every hundred years!”
Are you a fan of black and gold? Then you’ll want one of these four possibilities for an all black/gold final: Golden Knights vs Penguins; Bruins vs Ducks; Golden Knights vs Bruins; and Penguins vs Ducks.
Three potential expansion-cousin finals: 1967 Flyers vs Kings; 1967 Penguins vs Kings; and 2000 Blue Jackets vs Wild. Two of those Class of ’67 teams (Flyers vs Penguins) will meet in the Eastern Quarterfinals.
Oh Canada? There’s only one shot at an all-Canadian final in 2018, the Winnipeg Jets vs the Toronto Maple Leafs, which would really make the boys at
The Golf Channel NBC happy. We haven’t seen a Stanley Cup Final played entirely on the right side of the border since the Canadiens and Flames waaaaay back in 1989. There are 49 possible all-USA and 14 international Stanley Cup Final matchups.
You again?! There’s only five possible Stanley Cup Final rematches but they include both from the past two seasons: 2017 Penguins/Predators and 2016 Penguins/Sharks; the others all involve New Jersey, the lowest seeded team in the East: 2012 Devils/Kings; 2003 Devils/Ducks; 2001 Devils/Avalanche.
If Pittsburgh wins the Stanley Cup in 2018 they’ll be the first team to win three consecutive Stanley Cups since the 1981-82-83 New York Islanders. That Islanders team of course also won the cup in 1980, so if the Pens do end up making a run at four in 2019 they’ll be trying to match those same Islanders.
That’s all I got.
Check back after round one to see what’s left as 48 of these 64 possibilities will be eliminated.