NHL playoff picture: West set, East still up for grabs on final day


Tonight's Ottawa-Boston makeup game will determine three of the four series in the Eastern Conference.

We probably don't know as much as we thought we would know by the end of Saturday night's NHL action. More than half of the first round playoff series isn't bad, however. Plus, it puts some weight into the only game of Sunday night, Bruins vs. Senators.

Detroit and Minnesota both won and made the playoffs. Detroit -- the No. 7 seed -- will take on Anaheim in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, while Minnesota -- the No. 8 -- has the unenviable task of having to try and take down the Chicago Blackhawks. The St. Louis Blues won against a B-version the Hawks, so they get to host a post-season series. They will take on the Los Angeles Kings, who beat the San Jose Sharks to earn the right to visit the Gateway City. San Jose, meanwhile, will travel to Vancouver to take on the Canucks in round one.

In the Eastern Conference, only one series is set. The New York Rangers will take on the Washington Capitals for the third consecutive season and the fourth time since the lockout. The Caps won the first three, but the Rangers have the most recent series victory.

If the season ended at the time of this writing,here is what the playoff matchups would look like:

Eastern Conference

Current Playoff Matchups:

8. Ottawa Senators, 54 points (47 GP) vs. 1. Pittsburgh Penguins, 72 points (48 GP)

7. New York Islanders, 55 points (48 GP) vs. 2. Montreal Canadiens, 63 points (48 GP)

6. New York Rangers, 56 points (48 GP) vs. 3. Washington Capitals, 57 points (48 GP)

5. Toronto Maple Leafs, 57 points (48 GP) vs. 4. Boston Bruins, 62 points (47 GP)

Western Conference

Confirmed Playoff Matchups:

8. Minnesota Wild, 55 points vs. 1. Chicago Blackhawks, 77 points

7. Detroit Red Wings, 56 points vs. 2. Anaheim Ducks, 66 points

6. San Jose Sharks, 57 points vs. 3. Vancouver Canucks, 59 points

5. Los Angeles Kings, 59 points vs. 4. St. Louis Blues, 60 points

Here is Sunday night's matchup and how it will directly affect post-season standings.

Ottawa vs. Boston, 7 p.m. ET

If Boston wins in 60 minutes: The Bruins will win the Northeast Division and take on the Islanders in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Montreal would drop to fourth and host the Maple Leafs. The Senators stay in eighth and, oh boy, get a date with the Penguins in the first round.

If Boston wins in overtime or a shootout: Boston wins the Northeast, but the Senators will likely be able to stick around in Beantown if they want, as they'll hold a tiebreaker over the Islanders and get the seventh seed, facing the Bruins in round one. The Leafs would still face the Habs, and the Isles are thrown into the Penguins' den.

If Ottawa wins, period: Ottawa still gets the seventh seed, but everything else shakes up. The Canadiens will win the Northeast Division and host the Senators in the Conference Quarters. The Bruins stay in fourth and will host the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Islanders will be forced to take on the Penguins.

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