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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Conference finals schedule, results, updated bracket

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Conference finals schedule, results, updated bracket

The Capitals finally exorcised their demons when they took down the Penguins in Pittsburgh to clinch s second round victory in six games. They allowed themselves to celebrate, and all of D.C. joined in. Now, they must move on to face an even better opponent: the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

In reaching their first Eastern Conference Final since 1998, which also happens to be the last year the Capitals advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, the Caps have earned the right to face a powerhouse team. The Lightning lead the Eastern Conference with 113 points in the regular season, and they easily dispatched the second-place Bruins in just five games during the second round. 

The Caps will have to hope their offense stays hot along with Braden Holtby in goal, and they'll rely on their impressive play on the road to continue this postseason.

The other side of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff bracket is set as well, with the Western Conference Final pitting Winnipeg against Las Vegas for the right to face the winner of Washington-Tampa Bay.

The Golden Knights, are somehow still playing strong in their inaugural season. After finishing first in the Pacific Division, sweeping their first-ever playoff series, and advancing past the Sharks in six games, they now face the Jets. Winnipeg finished the regular season with 114 points, the second-highest total in the NHL, though also second-most within their own division.

The Jets took down Stanly Cup-favorite Nashville in the second-round, and they'll now try to become the first time ever to eliminate the Golden Knights. It's a different look for the NHL's final four teams than fans have grown accustomed to in recent years, but that shouldn't make the Conference Finals any less exciting. It's been a wild first few rounds, and now, teams are one series win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Here is the full Eastern Conference Final schedule for the Capitals.

CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING 2018 EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Washington Capitals (M1) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (A1): Washington leads 1-0

Game 1: Friday, 5/11 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN. Capitals 4, Lightning 2
Game 2: Capitals at Lightning. Sunday, 5/13 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN
Game 3: Lightning at Capitals. Tuesday, 5/15 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN
Game 4: Lightning at Capitals. Thursday, 5/17 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN
Game 5 (if Necessary): Capitals at Lightning. Saturday, 5/19 at 7:15 p.m. on NBC
Game 6 (If Necessary): Lightning at Capitals. Monday, 5/21 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN
Game 7 (If Necessary): Capitals at Lightning. Wednesday, 5/23 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Vegas Golden Knights (P1) vs. Winnipeg Jets (C2)

Game 1: Knights at Jets. Saturday, 5/12 at 7 p.m. on NBC
Game 2: Knights at Jets. Monday, 5/14 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN.
Game 3: Jets at Knights. Wednesday, 5/16 at 9 p.m. on NBCSN. 
Game 4: Jets at Knights. Friday, 5/18 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN.
Game 5 (If Necessary): Knights at Jets. Sunday, 5/20 at 3 p.m. on NBC. 
Game 6 (If Necessary): Jets at Knights. Tuesday, 5/22 at 9 p.m. on NBCSN.
Game 7 (If Necessary): Knights at Jets. Thursday, 5/24 at TBD. on NBCSN.

CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS 2018 NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Washington Capitals (M1) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (M2): Washington wins 4-2

Game 1: Thursday, 4/26 at 7 p.m. on NBCSN. Penguins 3, Capitals 2
Game 2: Sunday, 4/29 at 3 p.m. on NBC. Capitals 4, Penguins 1
Game 3: Tuesday, 5/1 at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Capitals 4, Penguins 3
Game 4: Thursday, 5/3 at 7 p.m. on NBCSN. Penguins 3, Capitals 1
Game 5: Saturday, 5/5 at 7 p.m. on NBC. Capitals 6, Penguins 3
Game 6: Monday, 5/7 at 7 p.m. on NBCSN. Capitals 2, Pittsburgh 1 (OT)

EASTERN CONFERENCE SECOND ROUND SCHEDULE

Tampa Bay Lightning (A1) vs. Boston Bruins (A2): Tampa Bay wins 4-1

Game 1: Saturday, 4/28 at 3 p.m. on NBC. Bruins 6, Lightning 2
Game 2: Monday, 4/30 at 7 p.m. on NBCSN. Lightning 4, Bruins 2
Game 3: Wednesday, 5/2 at 7 p.m. on NBCSN. Lightning 4, Bruins 1
Game 4: Friday, 5/4, 7at 7 p.m. on NBCSN. Lightning 4, Bruins 3 (OT)
Game 5: Sunday, 5/6 at 3 p.m on NBC. Lightning 3, Bruins 1

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Nashville Predators (C1) vs. Winnipeg Jets (C2): Winnipeg wins 4-3

Game 1: Friday, 4/27 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN. Jets 4, Predators 1
Game 2: Sunday, 4/29 at 7 p.m. on NBCSN. Predators 5, Jets 4 (2OT)
Game 3: Tuesday, 5/1 at 8 p.m. on CNBC. Jets 7, Predators 4
Game 4: Thursday, 5/3 at 9:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Predators 2, Jets 1
Game 5: Saturday, 5/5 at 9:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Jets 6, Predators 2
Game 6: Monday, 5/7 at 9:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Predators 4, Jets 0
Game 7: Thursday, 5/10 at 8:00 p.m. on NBCSN. Jets 5, Predators 1

Vegas Golden Knights (P1) vs. San Jose Sharks (P3): Las Vegas wins 4-2

Game 1: Thursday, 4/26 at 10 p.m. on NBCSN. Golden Knights 7, Sharks 0
Game 2: Saturday, 4/28 at 8 p.m. on NBC. Sharks 4, Golden Knights 3 (2OT)
Game 3: Monday, 4/30 at 10 p.m. on NBCSN. Golden Knights 4, Sharks 3 (OT)
Game 4: Wednesday, 5/2 at 10 p.m. on NBCSN. Sharks 4, Golden Knights 0
Game 5: Friday, 5/4 at 10 p.m. on NBCSN. Golden Knights 5, Sharks 3
Game 6: Sunday, 5/6 at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Golden Knights 3, Sharks 0

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Washington Capitals (M1) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (WC1): Capitals win series 4-2
Game 1
: Thursday, 4/12 at 7:30 p.m. ET. on NBC Sports Washington. Blue Jackets 4, Capitals 3 (OT)
Game 2: Sunday, 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: Saturday, 4/21 at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC. Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)
Game 6: Wednesday, 4/23 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington. Capitals 6, Blue Jackets 3

Pittsburgh Penguins (M2) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (M3): Penguins win series 4-2
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: Friday, 4/20 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Flyers 4, Penguins 2
Game 6: Sunday, 4/22 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Penguins 8, Flyers 5

Tampa Bay Lightning (A1) vs. New Jersey Devils (WC2): Lightning win series 4-1
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: Saturday, 4/21 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Lightning 3, Devils 1

Boston Bruins (A2) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (A3): Bruins win series 4-3
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: Saturday, 4/21 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 3
Game 6: Monday, 4/23 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Maple Leafs 3, Bruins 1
Game 7: Wednesday, 4/25 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Bruins 7, Maple Leafs 4

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 win series 4-2
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: Friday, 4/20, 9:30 p.m. ET. Avalanche 2, Predators 1
Game 6: Sunday, 4/22, 7:00 p.m. ET. Predators 5, Avalanche 0

Winnipeg Jets (C2) vs. Minnesota Wild (C3): Jets win series 4-1
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: Friday, 4/20 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Jets 5, Wild 0

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2018-19 Metropolitan Division preview: Carolina Hurricanes

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USA TODAY Sports

2018-19 Metropolitan Division preview: Carolina Hurricanes

The Capitals have won the Metropolitan Division three straight years. Can they defend their title? Here’s a preview of each team in the division for the 2018-19 season.

Today's team: Carolina Hurricanes

2017-18 Results: 36-35-11, 83 points, sixth in the division. Did not qualify for the playoffs.

Notable acquisitions: F Micheal Ferland, F Andrei Svechnikov, D Dougie Hamilton, D Calvin de Haan, G Petr Mrazek, head coach Rod Brind’Amour

Notable departures: F Elias Lindholm, F Joakim Nordstrom, F Derek Ryan, F Jeff Skinner, F Lee Stempniak, D Noah Hanifin, G Cam Ward, head coach Bill Peters

When they will play the Caps: Dec. 14 in Raleigh, Dec. 27 in Washington, March 26 in Washington, March 28 in Raleigh

Offseason recap: The offseason was one of change for the Hurricanes as new owner Tom Dundon tried to make his mark. Peters and Ron Francis are out, Brind’Amour and Don Waddell are in as coach and general manager. Carolina’s new front office had a busy offseason with a number of splashy moves.

Hanifin, Lindholm and Skinner all will have new homes next season as the Hurricanes traded all three players in two big-time trades. Hanifin and Lindholm netted the team Hamilton, Ferland and a prospect while Skinner brought back a prospect, a second, a third and a sixth-round pick.

In addition, Carolina also added Svechnikov with the second-overall pick in the draft.

Biggest strength: Defense

Carolina was solid defensively last season, it just didn't seem that way because of how bad the goaltending was. Adding de Haan and Hamilton bolsters what was already a formidable blue line.

Biggest weakness: Goaltending

Did I mention how bad their goaltending was last season? Darling and Ward combined for a .909 save percentage, better only than the Buffalo Sabres. Ward put up better numbers (2.73 GAA, .906 save percentage) than Darling (3.18 GAA, .888 save percentage), but he has moved on to the Chicago Blackhawks. To replace him, the Hurricanes picked up Mrazek who also struggled last season (3.03 GAA, .902 save percentage).

So to recap, Ward and Darling both had subpar years, but to replace Ward the Hurricanes picked up a goalie who was worse.

It makes sense that Carolina would want to give Darling another shot at earning the starting job considering they traded for him to be their starter of the future, but just because the goaltending could not get much worse than last season is no guarantee it will be better.

2018-19 season outlook: The Hurricanes enter the season with a lot of question marks.

Can Brind'Amour handle the responsibilities of being a head coach in the NHL with zero head coaching experience at any level? Did they do enough to address their scoring woes? Will someone play like a starting-caliber goalie? Is Dundon breaking the mold of an NHL owner or will his meddling negatively impact the team? Will Hamilton adjust to his new team? Is Svetchnikov ready for a top-line role in his rookie season? Is Sebastian Aho a center?

If they can find positive answers to all of those questions, this is a team that could surprise. More likely, however, there are simply too many issues in Carolina right now for this team to make any real noise.

A new owner, new general manager, new head coach and a new-look roster are too much for one team to adjust to in one season.

2018-19 season prediction: The Hurricanes miss the playoffs and it's not close.

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Heroes on the ice: Every Capitals player's superhero character

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USA TODAY Sports, Marvel and DC Comics

Heroes on the ice: Every Capitals player's superhero character

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the Washington Capitals!

It's not hard to picture your favorite athletes as superheroes. What the Caps are able to do on the ice seems almost superhuman at times.

Heck, they even have uniforms!

SEE EVERY CAPITALS PLAYER'S SUPERHERO CHARACTER HERE

But the similarities don't just end with the physical attributes and abilities. When you begin to really think about each player, you can see a lot of similarities between each of them and some well-known superheroes.

If each Caps player was a superhero, which one would they be? Check out each player's superhero character here.

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