The 2022/23 NHL regular season is over and the Stanley Cup Playoff bracket is now set based on teams' finishing places in the standings.
Several teams who missed the playoffs last season are in, some who expected to be there are out, and the Boston Bruins’ regular season will go down in history as the best of all-time.
The Boston Bruins tore through opposition and finished with the most wins of any team in a single NHL regular season (65), and the most points (135).
In his debut season with the Bruins, coach Jim Montgomery led his side to a remarkable 34-4-3 record at home and 30-8-2 on the road.
Boston won the Presidents' Trophy at the end of March and will enjoy home ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs where they will meet Florida Panthers in the first round.
Among many highlights for the Bruins, Linus Ullmark became the first netminder to score a goal since Pekka Runne of Nashville Predators in 2020.
The last Presidents' Trophy winner to lift the Stanley Cup was the 2012/13 Chicago Blackhawks and only eight of the 36 winners have gone on to be crowned Champions in the same season.
Boston are +300 to break the curse and end their magical season as Stanley Cup Champions which would be their first since 2011.
The Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets, Seattle Kraken and New Jersey Devils all made the playoffs after not appearing in 2022.
Each with a new coach ahead of the season, Vegas impressively fought the injury bug to win the Pacific Division while the Stars pushed the reigning Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche all the way in the Central Division.
New York, Winnipeg and Seattle all claimed Wild Card spots, but perhaps the biggest story was the Devils’ rise to contention.
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New Jersey have been in the Stanley Cup Playoffs just once since they last made the Final in 2012.
But led by a young core of Jack Hughes, 21, Nico Hischier, 24, Jesper Bratt, 24, and Dawson Mercer, 21, New Jersey (52-22-8) finished third in the overall NHL standings.
Hughes had 43 goals and 54 assists for 97 points which beats Patrik Elias' franchise record for points in a single season.
The Devils will take on New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs and their remarkable rise this season makes them +1000 to win the Stanley Cup.
Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid became the first player since Mario Lemieux to surpass 150 points, finishing with 152.
His 64 goals led the league too and won him the Rocket Richard Trophy over Bruins' David Pastrnak who had 61.
McDavid had 27 more points than the next closest player, teammate Leon Draisaitl, and their scoring exploits have helped the Oilers (50-23-9) to win nine games in a row and finish second in the Pacific Division.
The Los Angeles Kings will again have the torrid task of trying to stop the pair, who the Oilers beat in Game 7 at the same stage last season before marching on to the Western Conference Final.
The Oilers are +340 to win the West this season and +650 to win the Stanley Cup, which would be their first since 1990.
The Stanley Cup playoffs will be without Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin for the first time since 2006 after the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals failed to make the post-season.
Hit hard with injuries for a lot of the season, the Capitals had their eight-year run of making the playoffs ended while the Penguins blew the chance to extend their record 16-year participation with a devastating defeat to the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks in the last but one game.
After the final game, Washington fired coach Peter Laviolette and Pittsburgh removed team president Brian Burke, general manager Ron Hextall and assistant GM Chris Pryor.
The Nashville Predators also missed the post-season for the first time in nine seasons and there was disappointment for Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues particularly in the West who both would have expected to be in at the beginning of the season.
The Anaheim Ducks will have the best chance (25.5%) of winning the draft lottery and, with it, the ability to select generational talent Connor Bedard first overall.
The Ducks (23-47-12) finished last in the NHL standings, closely followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets (13.5%) and Blackhawks (11.5%).
The Ducks are in the middle of a re-build and had encouraging performances from their young core of Troy Terry, Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish.
They still have some way to go to become competitive but adding a franchise-altering player in Bedard would certainly accelerate their aspirations, and anyone else lucky enough to get him.
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