Lightning Round: Playoffs in the East are set, West still unknown
The Eastern Conference playoff bracket is set as all the clinched playoff teams have formalized their 82-game schedule and can now focus fully on the playoffs.
Breaking News as I write this way too late at night. The Tampa Bay Lightning will begin their playoffs on Tuesday night in Toronto, followed by Game 2 on Thursday. Game 3 in Tampa Bay will likely be on Saturday night. Be sure to check back in tomorrow morning for the full schedule of the first round.
The Boston Bruins, who won the President's Trophy with 65 wins, will face the Florida Panthers in the first round. The Panthers had a terrible start to the season but climbed their way up the standings and snuck into the playoffs in the final month of the season, unseating Pittsburgh at the death. The Panthers and the Ottawa Senators are the only teams in the league who have beaten the Bruins twice this season. The Panthers have about as good a chance as any to upset the Bruins. Fun fact, the Atlantic Division beat the Bruins seven times, while the Metro only beat them twice all season long.
Second in the division and second in the NHL are the Carolina Hurricanes, who will play the New York Islanders in the first round. The Hurricanes swept the Islanders in the second round in 2019. The Islanders earned the first wild card team in the East.
Third in the conference and second in the Metro are the New Jersey Devils, who will play the Rangers in the first round, who finished third in the division.
Fourth in the conference and second in the Atlantic are the Toronto Maple Leafs, who will play your very own Tampa Bay Lightning, who finished sixth in the conference. Because of Boston's all-time season and Florida's struggles, this was an odds-on matchup since December.
BOS vs FLA
TOR vs TBL
CAR vs NYI
NJD vs NYR
Should the Lightning win in the first round, they will play the winner of Boston vs Florida, and then the winner of the Metro division in the conference finals.
As for the West, we have most of a full picture with all the playoff teams but Colorado having reached 82 games last night. Here's how things look at the moment:
VGK vs WPG
EDM vs LAK
DAL/COL vs SEA
COL/DAL vs MIN
The winner of the Central Division will be determined by Colorado today when they play Nashville. A win and they win the division and play Seattle, anything less and it's Dallas who plays them.
What we do know is that Vegas won the Western Conference championship (fifth overall in the league) and the Pacific bracket is ready to go.
Who's your pick to come out of the West? I always end up guessing Minnesota, maybe this is the year.
Alex Barre-Boulet and Darren Raddysh have been named to the AHL's First Team All-Star for this season. Big congratulations to them.
Brian Elliott got a shut out in what is likely his last NHL regular season game. He was able to share the moment with his son and end the regular season on a high.
Brayden Point also scored his 50th goal of the season in the last game before the playoffs.H
Go check out our coverage from the game!
See you for Games 3, 4, and hopefully 6 at the very least! Here's to another long playoff run. Sorry, Alex Killorn, no rest for you.
Some speculation around the league as the Pittsburgh Penguins clear house in their front office. They're looking for a new GM who will create a new vision for the team.
The Ducks have the best chance at drafting Conor Bedard. Very inoffensive team for him to go to, I'm good with it.
Like Elliott, congrats on an excellent career, Craig Anderson.