Stanley Cup playoffs: Eastern Conference matchups set
After Saturday's action, the Eastern Conference playoff matchups are set in the NHL. All that is left to decide is home ice in the Tampa Bay-Montreal series.
All eight teams in the Eastern Conference now know who they will face in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. With the Columbus Blue Jackets' win over the Florida Panthers, they clinched the first wild-card slot, while the Montreal Canadiens earned a 1-0 overtime win over the New York Rangers to keep their home-ice hopes alive.
By taking the top wild-card spot in the playoffs, the Blue Jackets will meet Metropolitan Division winner Pittsburgh Penguins. Columbus lost all five meetings between the divisional foes this season.
As a result of Columbus' win, the Detroit Red Wings will meet Presidents' Trophy winner Boston in the opening round. It's a meeting of Original Six clubs that has not been seen since 1957. The Wings, oddly enough, were one of the few teams that seemed to have the Bruins' number this year, winning three of the four meetings between the two clubs. Detroit and Montreal are the only teams with more than two wins against the Bruins, in fact.
We also know that the Canadiens will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round. What won't be known until Sunday is which of those teams will take home ice. Tampa Bay will take on the Washington Capitals on Sunday. A win of any kind would give the Lightning home ice against the Habs, while either a regulation or overtime/shootout loss will start the series in Montreal.
There is plenty of intrigue on this side of the bracket, that's for sure.
The Stanley Cup playoffs will begin Wednesday.
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