The NHL is expected to wait on the result of Game Seven tomorrow night between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs before announcing a full schedule for the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, they have at least put an end to the wait on the dates and times of the series openers. No one is more relieved than the Vegas Golden Knights, who have already been inactive for a week after sweeping the Los Angeles Kings. The Knights will host the San Jose Sharks, also fresh off a sweep of the Anaheim Ducks, at 10 PM ET on Thursday, April 26th. The second round will kick off earlier that evening with the third-straight postseason collision between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. With their Metropolitan Division rivals out of the way, that series will get underway in Washington at 7 PM ET on Thursday. Friday night, the 27th, will feature the much-anticipated match-up between the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets, the top two teams in the NHL in the regular season. That series starts in Nashville at 8 PM ET on Friday. Finally, the Tampa Bay Lightning await the winner of Bruins-Maple Leafs and the decision also affects when their second round begins on Saturday, the 28th. If the Bruins win on Wednesday night, they’ll travel to Tampa for a 3 PM ET puck drop, but if the Leafs pull off the comeback and take the series, they’ll take the ice against the Lightning later in the day at 8 PM ET. Stay tuned for more Round Two schedule updates in the next 36 hours or so.
- Meanwhile, the “consolation playoffs”, the IIHF World Championships, will begin in Denmark on May 4th and teams continue to add talent from those NHL teams who have been eliminated from the postseason. Insider Juha Hiitela adds another name to the list, confirming that Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund will suit up for Finland at the tournament. Granlund scored at the highest clip of his career in 2017-18, recording 67 points in 77 games, including a career-high 46 assists. He added another three points in Minnesota’s first round playoff series versus Winnipeg, but the Wild were outmatched by the Jets and fell in five games. Now, Granlund will have a chance to return to the World Championships, where last he scored 12 points in 10 games to lead Finland to a second-place finish.
- However, Hiitela adds that New Jersey Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen will not be joining Granlund in Denmark. Per Hiitela, Vatanen suffered a concussion in the Devils opening series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This adds some clarity to the recent situation in which Vatanen missed most of Game Four and all of the deciding Game Five with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Just as he was missed by New Jersey, he’ll be missed by Finland at the World Championships. This would have been the first appearance at the tournament for the five-year NHL veteran.