NHL Playoffs Bracket 2018: Capitals advance, Maple Leafs force Game 7 with Bruins

There are nine teams left in the Stanley Cup playoffs after the Capitals downed the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night, 6-3, in Game 6, winning the series after dropping the first two games in overtime thrillers. And we'll be getting our first Game 7 of these NHL playoffs after the Maple Leafs held strong at home on an emotional night in Toronto to beat the Bruins, 3-1

Who will raise the Stanley Cup at the end of it all? 

The Blue Jackets were the latest team to start their summer vacation early in the Stanley Cup playoffs, joining the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche, who were both eliminated in Game 6 action on Sunday, with the Flyers falling to the Penguins and the Avs getting spanked by the Predators.

The Blue Jackets, Flyers and Avalanche join the Devils, Wild, Ducks and Kings in the scrap heap of the 2018 NHL playoff bracket. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights proved their mettle with a sweep of the Los Angeles Kings, becoming the new favorite to hoist the Stanley Cup in the process. The Ducks were swept by the Sharks, and the Wild were crushed by the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, ending their series in five game. The Devils joined the fray on Saturday when the Lightning handed them a 2-0 loss to end their series in five.

We've got you covered with how to stay on top of all the action. Be sure to check out the full TV schedule for the remaining first-round games, and stay on top of our individual first-round series breakdowns across both conferences. Here's the playoff bracket for the first round of matchups as well, showing each team's road to the Stanley Cup Final. 


NHL Western Conference Playoff Bracket

The biggest, baddest contender out of this crop is obvious -- the reigning conference champion Predators, even though the Avs gave them a run for their money at times. The Jets are vaunted as well, though, what with their electric offense. And Vegas seems bent on breaking more records as a legitimate balanced attack. 

NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Bracket

The juiciest games of this bunch have to be the Bruins-Maple Leafs and Flyers-Penguins tilts, if partially because of the fan bases behind them. Some people thought this could finally be the year the Capitals capitalize (hey, a pun?) on lower playoff expectations, but the Blue Jackets are doing their part to keep D.C. fans disappointed.

*Note: WC = wild card team

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