Well, it’s not exactly set in stone yet, but it’s looking more and more likely that the Boston Bruins will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to open the National Hockey League Playoffs.
Here’s what we know for a fact: The Florida Panthers have clinched top spot in the Eastern Conference and are guaranteed to meet the second wild card squad in the opening round. By defeating the New York Rangers last night, the Carolina Hurricanes have clinched top spot in the Metropolitan Division and will face whoever finishes in wild card 1 spot.
The Rangers will finish in second spot and will face either the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Washington Capitals with the higher seed having third spot in the Metro and facing the Rangers and the other in the second wild card spot to face the Panthers. With the Toronto Maple Leafs victory over the Detroit Red Wings last night, the Leafs have clinched second place in the Atlantic Division and will face either the Tampa Bay Lightning or your Boston Bruins.
Let me make it more confusing for you:
The Pittsburgh Penguins were at home to the Edmonton Oilers last night and lost to the Oilers while the Washington Capitals lost to the New York Islanders. Combined with Boston’s win over the Panthers last night, that means the Bruins are locked into the fist Wild Card spot – 3 points behind the Lightning with two games remaining is still a mathematical possibility.
So, here’s the possibilities:
Florida will face either Washington or Pittsburgh
Carolina will face either Tampa Bay or Boston
Toronto will face either Tampa Bay or Boston
New York will face either Pittsburgh or Washington.
Washington sits one point behind Pittsburgh for third in the Metro with the Caps having two games remaining and the Penguins just 1.
Boston sits 3 points back of the Lightning for third in the Atlantic with both teams having two games remaining. Tampa visits Columbus on Thursday and Islanders on Friday. Boston is at home to the Buffalo Sabres Thursday and visits Toronto Friday. Because Boston owns the tie breaker, the Lightning need two points to clinch third in the Atlantic.
Seems like an impossible task for the Bruins and they will face the Canes in round one. But this is the NHL and it’s why we play the games.