Home / frontsports / 2018 NHL Conference Finals Schedule, Preview, And Predictions
AP Photo/Nick Wass

2018 NHL Conference Finals Schedule, Preview, And Predictions

Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal was last night, but the NHL gets right back into action tonight with the start of the Eastern Conference Final between Washington and Tampa Bay. With the back-to-back defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins and Presidents’ Trophy winner Nashville Predators eliminated, we’ll have two new teams in the Stanley Cup Finals this year. So who will it be?


Eastern Conference Final


Schedule (Games 5-7 if necessary)

-Game 1: Capitals @ Lightning | Friday, May 11 (8:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)

-Game 2: Capitals @ Lightning | Sunday, May 13 (8:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)

-Game 3: Lightning @ Capitals | Tuesday, May 15 (8:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)

-Game 4: Lightning @ Capitals | Thursday, May 17 (8:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)

-Game 5: Capitals @ Lightning | Saturday, May 19 (7:15 PM ET, NBC)

-Game 6: Lightning @ Capitals | Monday, May 21 (8:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)

-Game 7: Capitals @ Lightning | Wednesday, May 23 (8:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)



Finally, the Capitals have gotten over the hump and into the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1998. Alexander Ovechkin and company are in unfamiliar territory, and it’ll be interesting to see how he and his teammates respond to the biggest situation they’ve been in as a team. Beating the Penguins in the second round should give them a ton of confidence, as they knocked off the champs—and the team that’s given them so much trouble in the postseason.


Meanwhile, after dropping Game 1 in Tampa Bay, the Lightning responded with four-straight victories against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semis. The offense was hot, scoring at least three goals in each of the final four games of the series against what was probably the best defense in the conference.


The Lightning took two of three against the Capitals during the regular season, but the two teams haven’t played since February 20. Both squads are very strong at the top of their rotation, but Tampa Bay has more depth across all four lines. However, Washington might have an advantage at goaltender. 23-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy has done a great job in the playoffs, but Braden Holtby is playing even better. Holtby doesn’t get credit for being a big-time playoff performer because his team hasn’t had a ton of success, but he shows up.


This should be an extremely close series, but I like the Capitals because they’ve been tested more this postseason.


Prediction: Capitals in seven



Western Conference Final


Schedule (Games 5-7 if necessary)

-Game 1: Golden Knights @ Jets | Saturday, May 12 (7:00 PM ET, NBC)

-Game 2: Golden Knights @ Jets | Monday, May 14 (8:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)

-Game 3: Jets @ Golden Knights | Wednesday, May 16 (9:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)

-Game 4: Jets @ Golden Knights | Friday, May 18 (8:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)

-Game 5: Golden Knights @ Jets | Sunday, May 20 (3:00 PM ET, NBC)

-Game 6: Jets @ Golden Knights | Tuesday, May 22 (9:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)

-Game 7: Golden Knights @ Jets | Tuesday, May 24 (8:00 PM ET, NBC Sports)



This one is going to be fun. Winnipeg is still representing north of the border, looking to get a title for Canada. After coming close to winning the Presidents’ Trophy themselves, the Jets knocked off the award winner by taking down the Predators in seven games. Winnipeg’s ability to win on the road—which they did three out of four times in the semifinal against the awesome homecrowd in Nashville—is huge this deep in the postseason.


Some people might be rooting for a Canadian team to get back into the Stanley Cup Final, but the expansion-team Golden Knights are quite the story. After a tough, defensive battle in round one against the Kings, the Golden Knights had an offensive explosion in round two against the Sharks. Showing they can win both ways in the postseason should give them confidence no matter what type of game breaks out.


Chances are, a lot of these games are going to be fast-paced and high-scoring. Las Vegas took two out of three against the Jets during the regular season, but their last matchup (February 1) was even earlier than the last matchup between Washington and Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference. In the end, this series also might come down to the goaltender that makes the most plays. Connor Hellebuyck has done a good job for the Jets, including in last night’s Game 7.


However, veteran Marc-Andre Fleury has been in these situations often. He has an absurd 1.53 GAA this postseason, and it’s hard not to like the way he’s playing.


Prediction: Golden Knights in six


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *