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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Caps finally know their opponent

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Caps finally know their opponent

The final day of the 2018 NHL regular season is here.

The Capitals are all set, having clinched the No. 1 seed in the Metro Division. They also know they will be playing the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round.

With only the Panthers and Bruins left to take the ice, the official 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Bracket is almost here.

Here is the final playoff bracket projection and the remaining playoff seeding and clinching scenarios heading into the final day of the season.

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NHL Playoff 2018 Scenarios heading into final day:

— If Boston wins in any fashion they will win the Atlantic Division and play the New Jersey Devils while the Tampa Bay Lightning will play the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

— If Boston loses in any fashion, Tampa will win the Atlantic Division and play New Jersey while the Bruins will play Toronto.

UPDATE: FULL NHL 2018 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

NHL Playoffs 2018 Final bracket projection

Eastern Conference Playoff Bracket:

-- Washington Capitals (M1) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (WC1)

-- Pittsburgh Penguins (M2)  vs. Philadelphia Flyers (M3)

-- Tampa Bay Lightning (A1) vs. New Jersey Devils (WC2)

-- Boston Bruins (A2) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (A3)

Western Conference Playoff Bracket

-- Nashville Predators (C1) vs. Colorado Avalanche (WC2)

-- Winnipeg Jets (C2) vs. Minnesota Wild (C3)

-- Vegas Golden Knights (P1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (WC1)

-- Anaheim Ducks (P2) vs. San Jose Sharks (P3)

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Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

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The Hershey Bears

Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The contracts of Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann and Bears assistant coach Ryan Murphy will not be renewed for next season, the Capitals announced Wednesday. Hershey finished in last place in the Atlantic Division and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“Troy is a dedicated and hard-working coach and we appreciate all he has done for the Hershey Bears,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “At this point, we feel a fresh approach and a change in leadership is needed in order for us to continue to develop our young players towards the next level and for success at the AHL level. We also want to thank Ryan for his contributions to the Hershey Bears and wish him all the best.”

Just two seasons ago, the Bears under Mann were playing the Calder Cup Finals where they lost in four games to the Lake Erie Monsters. Mann served as an assistant coach for Hershey from 2009-2013 and was hired as the head coach in 2014. He led the Bears to a record of 162-102-22-18 during his tenure, good for sixth all-time among Hershey coaches in wins.

Mann coached several current Capitals players in Hershey including Travis Boyd, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Philipp Grubauer, among others. Hershey also currently boasts several of the Caps' biggest prospects such as Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Riley Barber and Jonas Siegenthaler.

Murphy was with the Bears for all four years of Mann's tenure. He started in video development in Mann's first season and was promoted to assistant coach the following year.

“We’d like to thank Troy Mann and Ryan Murphy for their contributions to the Hershey Bears organization,” said Hershey vice president of hockey operations, Bryan Helmer. “While we are looking to move our hockey club forward, today is certainly an emotional day. I had the pleasure of working with both Troy and Ryan behind the bench for two seasons, and consider them to be great people. We wish both all the best in future endeavors.”

Coaching in the AHL is a tough job as coaches are expected to bring the team success while also developing their NHL club's prospects. There are times when the two goals do not necessarily line up which can make it a difficult balance.

Considering how important it is to develop talent from within, AHL coaches are very significant parts of an organization. Getting the right guy in charge of Hershey won't just boost the AHL team, but will help the Caps down the line with developed players.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

We all knew this was coming, right?

The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the 11th time in franchise history. Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once in their previous 10 series. This season gives them the opportunity to get over the second round and Pittsburgh hump once and for all.

Will this year be different? Will the Caps finally take down their arch nemesis? Will they finally advance to the conference final?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps-Penguins matchup in the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page