By Barry Garrison

Here’s a quick look at the Stanley Cup playoffs, which begin tonight in Pitt:

Metropolitan Division

No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 3 FLYERS

The Penguins (47-29-6) repeated as champions last year despite injuries to their No. 1 defenseman and starting goaltender, among others. The off-season saw them lose important supporting players, but they got their top defenseman, Kris Letang, back. Pittsburgh meandered through the early part of the season, but solidified its forward group with the acquisition of Derick Brassard at the trade deadline. Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel finished in the top 10 in points, but goalie Matt Murray has had a tumultuous season with injuries and mixed results.

The Flyers (42-26-14) have coalesced around two resurgent stars, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, the highest-scoring tandem in the NNL this season. The Flyers have had typically unstable goaltending, though their starter, Brian Elliott, appears healthy heading into the playoffs. If the regular season has any bearing on the playoffs, this cross-state matchup may not bode well for the Flyers. They lost all four games against Pittsburgh, surrendering five goals in each contest. Philly also had the NHL’s third-worst penalty kill, while Pittsburgh had the No. 1 power play.

No. 1 Washington Capitals vs. No. 4 Columbus Blue Jackets

Crushed by the weight of expectations last year, the Capitals (49-26-7) bounced back to capture the Metropolitan Division for the third straight season. Alex Ovechkin’s 49 goals earned him his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal-scorer. Despite numerous off-season departures, the Capitals still have plenty of firepower and balance. What they may lack is a steady goaltender. Braden Holtby’s play has dipped, and the Capitals may start Philipp Grubauer or use a platoon, a situation that seemed unthinkable at the beginning of the season.

Columbus (45-30-7) dropped three of four games against Washington this season. The Blue Jackets book-ended their season with solid play, though it sagged in the middle. They have kept their identity as a club that outworks opponents and have relied on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, but skilled forwards like Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Thomas Vanek give Columbus more scoring punch than it had in any of its three previous playoff appearances, all of which resulted in first-round exits.

Atlantic Division

No. 1 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 4 New Jersey Devils

The Lightning (54-23-5) spent much of the year atop the Eastern Conference but needed a Boston loss in its final game to secure the top seed. Even after a tremendous start to the season, management looked for ways to improve the team, landing Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller from the Rangers in a blockbuster trade. A healthy Steven Stamkos has formed a lethal tandem with right wing Nikita Kucherov, Defenseman Victor Hedman and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy are formidable on the back end, while Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde have had breakout seasons.

While the Lightning have four 25-goal scorers, the Devils (44-29-9) have leaned heavily on one man: left wing Taylor Hall. His 93 points are 41 more than the Devils’ next-most productive player, Nico Hischier, theNo. 1 pick last summer. The Devils benefited from the additions of defensemen Sami Vatanen (via trade) and Will Butcher (a rookie who signed out of college), and finished in the top 10 in the power play and penalty kill. While Cory Schneider began the year as the top goalie, the Devils appear ready to ride the hot hand of Keith Kinkaid in Round 1. The Devils swept the season series, 3-0, including a 4-3 win in February in which they were outshot, 51-28.

No. 2 Boston Bruins vs. No. 3 Toronto Maple Leafs

After a slow start, the Bruins (50-20-12) put together an 18-game point streak heading into the All-Star break that catapulted them to high in the standings. They finished in the top four in power play and penalty kill, and only the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Nashville Predators performed comparably in terms of advanced stats. The Bruins have a superb top line with Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. They sustained and surmounted injuries all season with nearly a dozen rookies suiting up for the team, and wing Danton Heinen and defenseman Charlie McAvoy were among the league’s top newcomers.

Toronto (49-26-7), which set a franchise record for wins and points this season, is a tough first-round draw for any team. Led by the young forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, the Maple Leafs finished third in goals and second in power-play conversion rate. Defensively, Toronto allowed more shots on goal than any other playoff team, but goalie Frederik Andersen answered the bell more often than not. The Leafs won three of four meetings with Boston this season, but may be haunted by their Game 7 collapse against the Bruins in the 2013 playoffs.

Pacific Division

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 4 Los Angeles Kings

Any skepticism surrounding hockey in Las Vegas was squashed by the Knights (51-24-7), who shattered the record for points by a team in its inaugural season and stayed atop a deep division from Dec. 23 onward. Veteran players like James Neal and Marc Andre-Fleury were rejuvenated by their new surroundings, while players like William Karlsson, Erik Haula and Colin Miller took full advantage of their expanded roles for the expansion franchise. The Knights split the season series with Los Angeles.

The Kings (45-29-8) made sweeping changes at higher levels of the organization by clearing out their general manager and coach in the off-season. They were buoyed by career seasons from defenseman Drew Doughty; Anze Kopitar, the team’s current captain; and Dustin Brown, the team’s former captain who had been in sharp decline. Brown and Kopitar turned in four-goal games down the stretch while Jonathan Quick provided timely goaltending in a tight playoff race. The Kings led the league in penalty kill percentage and allowed the fewest goals.

No. 2 Anaheim Ducks vs. No. 3 San Jose Sharks

Calamity befell the Ducks (44-25-13) before the season even started, as they were missing their two top centers and three top defensemen. Goalie John Gibson has also been a frequent visitor to the trainer’s table. Yet if the Ducks can get healthy, they may regain the form that saw them win five straight division crowns and make two trips to the Western Conference finals. The top defenseman Cam Fowler will likely miss this series with a shoulder injury, and Gibson’s status is in question after he missed the last three games of the regular season.

The Sharks (45-27-10) have been without center Joe Thornton for the last 35 games because of a knee injury. And they backed into the postseason, winning just one of their final six games, though they did take three out of four meetings with Anaheim this season. Still, San Jose is talented, with Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns leading the way, and is only two years removed from a finals appearance.

Central Division

No. 1 Nashville Predators vs. No. 4 Colorado Avalanche

The N.H.L.’s top team by record faces a team that needed a win in the last game to qualify for the playoffs. Last season, Nashville (53-18-11) pushed its way to the Cup finals as a wild-card team. Never content, General Manager David Poile replaced outgoing playes like wing James Neal, now with Vegas, and the retired captain Mike Fisher (who later returned) with forwards Kyle Turris, Nick Bonino and Scott Hartnell. Poile shored up the team’s defense by adding Alexei Emelin. Another forward to watch is Eeli Tolvanen, a star for Finland at the Olympics, who made his N.H.L. debut last week.

Colorado was abysmal in 2016-17, finishing last in the N.H.L. with only 48 points. The Avalanche (43-30-9) nearly doubled their point total this season, thanks to center Nathan MacKinnon, the No. 1 pick in 2013; defenseman Tyson Barrie; and right wing Mikko Rantanen, a first rounder in 2015. Goalie Semyon Varlamov will miss the remainder of the season, but his backup, Jonathan Bernier, has performed admirably during extended stints as the starter. Nashville swept the season series between the teams, 4-0, and outscored Colorado, 17-8.

No. 2 Winnipeg Jets vs. No. 3 Minnesota Wild

With a healthier defense and strong goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck, the Jets (52-20-10) vaulted into the playoffs. Forwards Laine, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler turned in stellar seasons, along with the rookie Kyle Connor and the speedy wing Nikolaj Ehlers. Wheeler, with 91 points in 81 games, is among the players who might receive consideration for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. The Jets finished in the top seven in goals for, goals against, power-play conversation rate and penalty-kill percentage. The Jets took three of four meetings with the Wild and closed the season winning their final five games and nine of their last 10.

The Wild’s play flattened at times, including after the trade deadline and down the stretch. The veteran center Eric Staal has experienced a rebirth in Minnesota (45-26-11), scoring 42 goals — his most since 2005-6, when he led the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup. Zach Parise spent much of the year on injured reserve but contributed 15 points in his final 18 games. The Wild are at a disadvantage in goal, as well as on defense without their top defenseman, Ryan Suter, who will miss the rest of the season with a broken ankle.

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