Sometime around 9:40 PM, all the cards fell into place regarding the NHL playoffs in the Eastern Conference, and the end result of the Tampa Bay Lightning's game against the Boston Bruins amounted to nothing in the final picture:
The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres, shutting them out and clinching the final wild card spot. Even with victory, the Bruins could no longer catch the Pens.
In Toronto, the Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens took their tied game into overtime. With that single point, Les Habs clinched the Atlantic Division regular-season title with 109 points. They ended up with the victory over the Leafs and finish the season with 110 points to their name.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, the Detroit Red Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0. The win propelled the club back into the #3 seed in the Division. A spot they lost earlier in the afternoon when the Ottawa Senators defeated the Philadelphia Flyers and advanced to the playoffs.
So, with everything aligned with the scores tonight, your opening round of playoff match+ups in the Eastern Conference will be thus:
- The New York Rangers will face the Pittsburgh Penguins
- The Montreal Canadiens will play the Ottawa Senators
- The Tampa Bay Lightning will square off against the Detroit Red Wings
- The Washington Capitals face the New York Islanders
You can find different story lines with each of those contests, and I'll let you muse about them in comments.
Schedules should be released Monday, if not earlier.
Well, about that earlier part of the above statement? Yeah, that happened. While you can find the playoff schedule for all 16 playoff-bound clubs in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning/Detroit Red Wings schedule will be thus (apologies for formatting conflicts) --
Date TIME (ET) #2 Tampa Bay vs. #3 Detroit Networks
Thursday, April 16 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Tampa Bay CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 18 3 p.m. Detroit at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC,TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 21 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Detroit NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Thursday, April 23 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Detroit NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, April 25 TBD Detroit at Tampa Bay TBD
*Monday, April 27 TBD Tampa Bay at Detroit TBD
*Wednesday, April 29 TBD Detroit at Tampa Bay TBD