NHL Playoffs 2012: Eastern Conference Seeding, Southeast Division Title Up For Grabs Saturday

It's the final day of the 2011-12 NHL regular season, and while all eight participants in the Eastern Conference playoffs have punched their tickets to the ball, they still don't know the order in which they'll be seated at their tables.

That's what Saturday in the NHL is all about. All 30 teams in the league are in action -- it's just the fourth time in history that's happened -- and a good number of them will be jockeying for position when they hit the ice. Here's what we already know in the East:

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers will face each other in Round 1. Pittsburgh has clinched the No. 4 seed while Philadelphia has clinched the No. 5 seed. The teams play each other on Saturday afternoon but the game will have no impact anything but emotion.
  • The New York Rangers will finish with the No. 1 seed in the East. With a win Saturday against the Washington Capitals, they'll also hoist the Presidents' Trophy as the best regular season team in the NHL.
  • The Boston Bruins will finish with the No. 2 seed. Their opponent is to be determined Saturday.
  • The New Jersey Devils will finish with the No. 6 seed. Their opponent is to be determined Saturday.
  • That leaves three spots -- the No. 3 seed, No. 7 seed and No. 8 seed -- open in the Eastern Conference, all to be determined Saturday.

The Florida Panthers enter Game 82 with a two-point lead on the Capitals for the Southeast Division title, so all they need is a single point against the Carolina Hurricanes to clinch their first-ever division crown. If the Panthers fail to earn a point, the Caps would clinch the division with two points in any fashion, as they hold the tiebreaker over Florida.

If the Panthers win the division, it's possible that the Capitals can still catch the Ottawa Senators for the No. 7 seed. Should Ottawa lose to the New Jersey Devils and should Washington beat the Rangers in any fashion, the Capitals will move up to the seventh spot. Ottawa would then move down to the No. 8 seed.

If the Capitals win the Southeast title, the Senators will clinch the No. 7 seed regardless of what they do vs. New Jersey, just as they will if they earn just a single point Saturday.

Stick with our StoryStream for full coverage of Saturday's complete day of NHL action.

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