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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Full NHL Playoff Bracket, First-Round Schedule Released

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Full NHL Playoff Bracket, First-Round Schedule Released

The Capitals' quest for the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup begins with a first-round matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets, following a 5-3 win over the Devils

The Penguins' 4-0 over the Senators on Friday night assured Pittsburgh home-ice advantage in the first round. The Flyers' 5-0 vs. the Rangers on Saturday assured Philadelphia a spot in the 2018 NHL Staley Cup Playoffs.

With the Bruins' 4-2 loss to the Panthers in the regular-season finale on Sunday night, the Lightning take the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Division and will face the Devils in the first round.

The Bruins, now the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division, will take on the Atlantic No. 3 seed Toronto Maple Leafs.

You can watch every game of the Capitals vs. Blue Jackets series on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder), which begins on Thursday, April 12  at Capital One Arena. 

Here is the Capitals vs. Blue Jackets first round schedule.

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Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 2018 First Round Schedule

Washington Capitals (M1) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (WC1): Series tied 2-2
Game 1
: 4/12 at 7:30 p.m. ET. on NBC Sports Washington. Blue Jackets 4, Capitals 3 (OT)
Game 2: 4/15 at 7:30 p.m. ET. on NBC Sports Washington. Blue Jackets 5, Capitals 4 (OT)
Game 3: Tuesday, 4/17 at 7:30 p.m. ET. on NBC Sports Washington. Capitals 3, Blue Jackets 2 (2OT)
Game 4: Thursday, 4/19 at 7:30 p.m. ET. on NBC Sports Washington. Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 1
Game 5: Blue Jackets at Capitals. Saturday, 4/21 at Time TBD
Game 6: Capitals at Blue Jackets. Wednesday, 4/23 at Time TBD on NBC Sports Washington.
Game 7 (If Necessary): Blue Jackets at Capitals. Friday, 4/25 at Time TBD on NBC Sports Washington. 

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Pittsburgh Penguins (M2) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (M3): Penguins lead series, 3-1
Game 1: Wednesday. 4/11 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Penguins 7, Flyers 0
Game 2: Friday, 4/13 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Flyers 5, Penguins 1
Game 3:  Sunday, 4/15 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Penguins 5, Flyers 1
Game 4:  Wednesday. 4/18 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Penguins 5, Flyers 0
Game 5: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins. Friday, 4/20 at Time TBD
Game 6 (If Necessary): Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers. Sunday, 4/22 at Time TBD
Game 7 (If Necessary): Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins. Tuesday, 4/24 at Time TBD

Tampa Bay Lightning (A1) vs. New Jersey Devils (WC2): Lightning lead series, 3-1
Game 1: Thursday, 4/12 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Lightning 5, Devils 2
Game 2: Saturday, 4/14 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Lightning 4, Devils 3
Game 3: Monday, 4/16 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Devils 5, Lightning 2
Game 4: Wednesday, 4/18 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Lightning 3, Devils 1
Game 5: New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning. Saturday, 4/21 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Game 6 (If Necessary): Tampa Bay Lightning at New Jersey Devils. Monday, 4/23 at Time TBD
Game 7 (If Necessary): New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning. Wednesday, 4/25 at Time TBD

Boston Bruins (A2) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (A3): Bruins lead series 3-1
Game 1: Thursday, 4/12 at 7:00 p.m. ET.  Bruins 5, Maple Leafs 1
Game 2: Saturday, 4/14 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Bruins 7, Maple Leafs 3
Game 3: Monday, 4/16 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 2
Game 4: Thursday, 4/19 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Bruins 3, Maple Leafs 1
Game 5: Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins. Saturday, 4/21 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Game 6 (If Necessary): Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs. Monday, 4/23 at Time TBD
Game 7 (If Necessary): Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins. Wednesday, 4/25 at Time TBD

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Vegas Golden Knights (P1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (WC1): Golden Knights win series 4-0
Game 1: Wednesday, 4/11 at 10:00 p.m. ET. Golden Knights 1, Kings 0
Game 2: Friday, 4/13 at 10:00 p.m. ET. Golden Knights 2, Kings 1 (2OT)
Game 3: Sunday, 4/15 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Golden Knights 3, Kings 2
Game 4: Tuesday, 4/17 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Golden Knights 1, Kings 0

Anaheim Ducks (P2) vs. San Jose Sharks (P3): Sharks win series 4-0
Game 1: Thursday, 4/12 at 10:30 p.m. ET.  Sharks 3, Ducks 0
Game 2: Saturday, 4/14 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Sharks 3, Ducks 2
Game 3: Monday, 4/16 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Sharks 8, Ducks 1
Game 4: Wednesday, 4/18 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Sharks 2, Ducks 1

Nashville Predators (C1) vs. Colorado Avalanche (WC2): Predators lead series 3-1
Game 1: Thursday, 4/12 at 9;30 p.m. ET. Predators 5, Avalanche 2
Game 2: Saturday, 4/14 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Predators 5, Avalanche 3
Game 3: Monday, 4/10 at 10:00 p.m. ET. Avalanche 5, Predators 3
Game 4: Wednesday, 4/18 at 10:00 p.m. ET. Predators 3, Avalanche 2
Game 5: Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators. Friday, 4/20, 9:30 p.m. ET.
Game 6 (If Necessary): Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche. Sunday, 4/22, Time TBD 
Game 7 (If Necessary): Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators. Tuesday, 4/24 Time TBD

Winnipeg Jets (C2) vs. Minnesota Wild (C3): Jets lead series 3-1
Game 1: Wednesday, 4/11 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Jets 3, Wild 2
Game 2: Friday, 4/13 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Jets 4, Wild 1
Game 3: Sunday, 4/15 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Wild 6, Jets 2
Game 4:  Tuesday 4/17 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Jets 2, Wild 0
Game 5: Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets. Friday, 4/20 at 7:30 p.m.
Game 6 (If Necessary): Winnipeg Jets at Minnesota Wild. Sunday, 4/22 at Time TBD
Game 7 (If Necessary): Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets. Wednesday, 4/25 at time TBD

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Burakovsky will miss the first round, but Caps won't rule him out for remainder of the playoffs

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Burakovsky will miss the first round, but Caps won't rule him out for remainder of the playoffs

Andre Burakovsky will be sidelined for the remainder of Washington's first-round series vs. Columbus, but he isn’t necessarily out for the remainder of the playoffs, Coach Barry Trotz said on Friday.

Burakovsky suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury in the Capitals' Game 2 overtime loss and has not been on the ice since.

Trotz said the 23-year-old top-six winger needs “minor” surgery.

That procedure, however, will not preclude Burakovsky from returning to the Caps’ lineup in subsequent rounds, should Washington advance.

“That's why I said minor surgery,” Trotz added, asked if Burky might return at a later date.

This latest surgery is the second for Burakovsky this season. In late October, he had a procedure to repair a broken left thumb and missed the next 20 games.

Since his departure in Game 2, Jakub Vrana and Chandler Stephenson have taken turns replacing Burakovsky on the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.

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Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

There's a saying in sports that goes, "A series doesn't start until a team loses at home." For the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, their series won't start until someone wins at home.

Four games into the series, the road team has won every game. Columbus took Game 1 and Game 2 from Capital One Arena and the Caps answered back by winning Game 3 and Game 4 in Ohio.

"We came [to Columbus] to try to get the first one," Barry Trotz said after Thursday's win. "Did that. We came here to get the second one. Did that. All we've done is just got on even terms."

Now the series is a best of three with two of those final three games in Washington, but how much of an advantage does that really give the Caps?

"We've got to make sure that we're ready to go," Trotz said. "I think we have been since we got here. We've just got to do it at home."

The various playoff struggles the Caps have suffered in the Alex Ovechkin era have been well-documented to this point. One particularly maddening issue is the team's struggles to win at home. Since 2008, the first year the Ovechkin-led Caps made the playoffs, the team is just 28-25 in home playoff games. Since 2015, Trotz's first season as head coach, the Caps are 12-10 in Washington.

Part of that is just the nature of hockey. Upsets are prevalent in the playoffs in the NHL and home-ice advantage does not mean as much as it does in other sports. But it should mean more than 28-25.

Besides having the crowd on your side, home ice also provides matchup advantages. The home team gets the second line change at home, meaning during a stoppage in play the home coach gets the opportunity to see who the opponent puts on the ice before making his own change. For the Caps, this means getting Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against Artemi Panarin.

Trotz has matched his top shutdown pair against Columbus' top line all series long. According to Natural Stat Trick, when Niskanen was on the ice in Game 4 he held Panarin's Corsi For percentage to 36.36. When Niskanen was not on the ice, Panarin's percentage shot up to 71.43. 

Theoretically, it should be much easier for Trotz to get those favorable matchups at home. Now all the Caps have to do is take advantage.

"Our home record hasn't been really great in the last little stretch at the end of the season here and obviously the first two games of the playoffs," Trotz said. "We owe it to our fans, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of that."

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