An in-depth look at the first round of the NHL playoffs

Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs faced off in the first round of the Playoffs (

With the first round of the annual NHL Playoffs done and the second underway, it is safe to say that the showdown has started.

These 2023 Playoffs couldn’t be any wilder—we are just one round in, and already there are many genuinely mind-blowing upsets, with would-be champion teams being knocked out by virtual nobodies. It is quite the series, and if you aren’t caught up on your NHL knowledge, here are all of the first-round matchups.

New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers

Being certainly one of the most anticipated series in the playoffs, many expected New York to win. New Jersey has upped their roster over the last few years, showcasing the spectacular Jack Hughes and a rather powerful cadre of Timo Meier, Erik Haula, Tomas Tatar, Dougie Hamilton and Mackenzie Blackwood. However, none of this improvement can be compared with the tremendous job of the Rangers to bring back their traditional legacy in the giant stars of the recently acquired Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko, along with powerhouse Artemi Panarin, projected lead Alexis Lafreniere, captain Mika Zibanjiad, and the great duo of Jaroslav Halak and Igor Shesterkin in goal. However, in an extraordinarily close series, the Devils pulled it off, winning 4-3 in games and securing a second-round place. The Rangers are undoubtedly disappointed, especially with the comparatively poor performance of Kane and Lafreniere.

Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers

This series was beyond any other. The Bruins, which had led the league in terms of standings for the entire season, winning a record 65 games and featuring the classic superstars of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pasternak and Tyler Bertuzzi, among others, were seen as the definite winners. Everyone in the hockey world was completely mind blown when the Panthers, who hadn’t even finished in the top three of their conference won the series 4-3, proving that speed and agility are sometimes the deciding factor against a team of older geniuses.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Another highly awaited series, this matchup was highly debated. Tampa Bay, who, just a couple of seasons ago, had won the playoffs two years in a row. They are still strong, although not as much as before. Toronto, on the other hand, have been steadily one of the top teams over the last few years, albeit, not the best. When the Canadian team, featuring superstars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, and captain John Tavares, along with the strong Matt Murray and young Ilya Samsonov in goal, won the series 4-2, it was a letdown to many Tampa fans (myself included), but not a complete shock. It was definitely a thrilling series and one that marked the end of Tampa’s recent legacy as the top team in the league.

In terms of the rest of the first round:

  • Seattle vs. Colorado, Seattle won 4-3
  • Dallas vs. Minnesota, Dallas won 4-2
  • Toronto vs. Tampa Bay, Toronto won 4-2
  • Carolina vs. New York Islanders, Carolina won 4-2
  • Edmonton vs. Los Angeles, Edmonton won 4-2
  • Las Vegas vs. Winnipeg, Vegas won 4-1

We now look forward to the second-round results and the rest of the playoffs, which are definitely shaping up to be a fun watch. It’ll be interesting if the recently-proven Carolina Hurricanes are able to pull off a win, or if a more shallow team, to the likes of Las Vegas or Dallas, will clinch the championship.