Friday, March 29, 2024

Ranking the 5 best first-round playoff matchups that are still in play

We’re just a few weeks away from the playoffs, and I have some good news: There are some good first-round matchup still in play. Like, really good. So good that part of me doesn’t even want to talk about them, because there’s still time for the hockey gods to yank them away from us. But let’s tempt fate by breaking down five tantalizing possibilities.

Of course, we have to define what it means for a matchup to be “still in play”. That gets tricky, and can lead to some wishful thinking. I’m going to use the odds from Sports Club Stats, and limit us to matchups that have at least a 30% chance of happening heading into last night’s games. That means no long-shot rivalries like Rangers vs. Islanders (3%) or Oilers vs. Canucks (1%), although if one of those miracle matchups does end up happening, I want credit for manifesting it.

No, we’re staying in the quasi-real world, insisting on pairings with 30% or better, with the added bonus of not re-using any team more than once so I can’t go full homer and just pick all the different potential Leaf matchups. Spoiler alert: That still sets the table for some really good matchups. Let’s count them down…

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