The NHL playoffs begin April 10. To help you with NHL postseason planning, here are some of AP’s plans. Please direct questions to Dave Zelio (email@example.com). This advisory is subject to change and will be updated. All times Eastern.
_ Each series gets a day-before preview, 650-750 words.
_ Game coverage will follow the regular-season format, with final updates of about 750 words. Sidebars on merit.
_ During the early rounds, we will again move HKN--FACEOFF each day until the conference finals, featuring the top story lines looking ahead to the next day’s games.
The Calgary Flames are the new players in the Western Conference playoffs, a field stacked with Stanley Cup-contending teams such as the San Jose Sharks, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights. By Hockey Writer Larry Lage. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 6 p.m. April 8.
The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs have no choice but to face off in the first round of the playoffs because of the NHL’s divisional format. One of those teams will go home early and the other one will likely face Stanley Cup favorite Tampa Bay, but the Eastern Conference is full of intrigue from the surprising New York Islanders to the defending champion Washington Capitals and the always-dangerous Pittsburgh Penguins. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 6 p.m. April 8.
HKN--AROUND THE NHL
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov is running away with the NHL’s point race, making him the leading contender for the NHL’s MVP honor. The Lightning have shot at winning several other end-of-season honors, including goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and coach Jon Cooper. The AP breaks down the likely award winners across the league. By Hockey Writer John Wawrow. UPCOMING: 900 words by 5 a.m. April 3.
HKN--PLAYOFF PRIMER-CANADIAN DROUGHT
No, Canada. It’s going on 26 years since a Canadian-based team won the Stanley Cup, following the Patrick Roy-led Montreal Canadiens’ five-game series victory over Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. The hockey-mad nation’s eyes now turn to Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto to see if one of them can finally bring home the Cup. By Hockey Writer John Wawrow. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 5 p.m. April 7.
HKN--PLAYOFF PRIMER-GOALTENDING QUESTIONS
Some of the biggest Stanley Cup contenders have one thing standing in their way of hoisting the trophy. Only problem is it’s the most important position in hockey. The Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues are among those with significant goaltending questions going into the playoffs. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 5 a.m. April 8.
HKN--PLAYOFF PRIMER-PRESIDENTS TROPHY CURSE
The Tampa Bay Lightning dominated the NHL and clinched the Presidents’ Trophy with three weeks left in the season. But the memory of other teams’ recent playoff failures after winning the Presidents’ Trophy has made the pressure so much that it’s _ almost _ like a curse. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 a.m. April 9.
HKN--PLAYOFF PRIMER-DEADLINE ADDITIONS
The Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators restocked their lineups at the NHL trade deadline in a bid to spur their Stanley Cup championship aspirations. The President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning, meanwhile, mostly stood pat. Which contending team made the right choice will become more clear with the playoffs set to open Wednesday. By Hockey Writer John Wawrow. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 5 p.m. April 9.
Patrik Laine burst on to the scene as a 30-goal scorer as a teenager and finished second in the NHL to Alex Ovechkin with 44 last season. The Finnish sensation has gone through goal droughts this season but become arguably a better player for the Winnipeg Jets because he has improved other parts of his game without sacrificing scoring. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 5 a.m. April 3.
Nikita Kucherov leads the NHL in points by a landslide and could pass Alexander Mogilny’s single-season record for Russian players. The favorite for league MVP and perhaps the most understated superstar in North American sports thinks this season has been “OK,” even as teammates past and present are wowed by his accomplishments. In true Kucherov fashion, the assists matter more than the goals to the player who most makes the Tampa Bay Lightning the Stanley Cup favorite. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 a.m. April 5.
HKN--PENGUINS-SID FOR SELKE
PITTSBURGH _ Sidney Crosby’s offensive numbers have been so eye-popping for so long, the work he does at the other end of the ice is easily overshadowed. That is starting to change. The Pittsburgh Penguins are headed to the playoffs for a 13th straight year thanks in large part to their captain’s ability to help prevent goals as easily as he scores them, making him a darkhorse candidate for the Selke Trophy, the award given annually to the top defensive forward in the NHL. By Will Graves. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by noon April 7.
HKN--BLUE JACKETS-BODACIOUS BOB
COLUMBUS, Ohio _ Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s season didn’t have a great start. Or a great middle, for that matter. Controversy over his refusal to sign an extension with the team bled into his performance in the ice. The former Vezina Trophy winner was even a healthy scratch early in March. But he turned it around and finished the month playing the best hockey of his career. Can Bobrovsky, whose performances in the playoffs have been underwhelming, keep it up in the postseason? By Mitch Stacy. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 5 p.m. April 7.
HKN--CAPITALS-BEING TOM WILSON
ARLINGTON, Va. _ Tom Wilson knows his reputation precedes him. He knows he is regarded by many as the most hated player in hockey, a goon who crosses the line far too often when it comes to taking shots at opponents. His suspension history is well known and fans have come to almost expect that he will injure someone at some point. You won’t find any complaints in the Capitals locker room, not after Wilson piled up more points than he ever has in his career as Washington makes a run at a repeat championship. His edge is just fine with them. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 5 p.m. April 7.
A year ago, the St. Louis Blues missed the playoffs by one point, and general manager Doug Armstrong loaded up in July by trading for Ryan O’Reilly and signing Patrick Maroon, Tyler Bozak and David Perron. When the season went off the rails, he fired coach Mike Yeo and replaced him with Craig Berube, and since that change and the recall of goaltender Jordan Binnington, St. Louis has gone from last place to playoff-bound and could be a threat to make a run. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 5 a.m. April 8.
LAS VEGAS _ The Vegas Golden Knights opened the season 8-11-1 and wound up in last place in the Western Conference at one point, a humbling stumble for a team that was just a few months removed from a charmed run to the Stanley Cup Final in its first year of existence. With the addition of Mark Stone and four stacked lines, the defending conference champions may be hitting their stride at the right time as the playoffs arrive. By W.G. Ramirez. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 a.m. April 8.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. _ The Predators asked to keep the roster together after winning the Presidents’ Trophy a year ago only to see general manager David Poile trade for four new players. Nashville also has forward Austin Watson back from suspension and a pair of rookies fresh out of college. That’s why coach Peter Laviolette has been mixing and matching trying to find his best line combinations going into the postseason. By Teresa M. Walker. UPCOMING: 675 words, photos by 5 p.m. April 8.