Apr 13, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
With the Detroit Red Wings beating the St. Louis Blues, we now know which teams will meet in the first round.
If you’re not familiar with the new playoff format, the second and third place teams in each division will face each other while the division winners will play against the Wild Card squads. As you might imagine, the teams with the best record in their respective Conferences are paired with the worst Wild Card teams.
We’ll have plenty of in-depth coverage of the upcoming playoff series in the days to come, but for now, here are your first round matchups:
Boston Bruins versus Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive campaign. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins have secured the Presidents’ Trophy for the second time in the franchise’s history. Two of the eight teams that have won the Presidents’ Trophy in the salary cap era have gone on to win the Stanley Cup.
Montreal Canadiens versus Tampa Bay Lightning
It remains to be seen who will have home ice advantage in this series. Montreal finished the campaign with 100 points, but Tampa Bay is at 99 going into its game against Washington this afternoon. The Canadiens control the tiebreaker, so an overtime/shootout loss wouldn’t be good enough for the Lightning.
Pittsburgh Penguins versus Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets have made the playoffs for just the second time in the franchise’s history and they are searching for their first postseason win. In Pittsburgh, all eyes will be on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after his string of disappointing showings in the playoffs. The Penguins went to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009 and won it all the second time around, but they got a lot to prove going into the 2014 postseason.
New York Rangers versus Philadelphia Flyers
Goaltending could be the X-Factor in this one. The Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalies of this era while Steve Mason has only played in four postseason contests and has lost them all. Philadelphia has also lost eight straight games at Madison Square Garden, which is a trend they need to snap given that the Rangers have home ice advantage.
Anaheim Ducks versus Dallas Stars
Anaheim won the Pacific Division for the second straight season — although obviously the division changed this season. The Ducks lost in the first round in 2013 despite their strong regular season, so they have plenty to prove going into this series. This will also be Teemu Selanne‘s last postseason run before retirement. Meanwhile, Dallas is back in the playoffs after a five-year absence.
San Jose Sharks versus Los Angeles Kings
Will this be the year that San Jose’s regular season success translates into a Stanley Cup championship? This will be San Jose’s 10th consecutive season in the playoffs, but the franchise doesn’t have anything to show for it yet. The Kings had the inferior regular season record, but they won the Cup in 2012 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2013.
St. Louis Blues versus Chicago Blackhawks
Lots of star power in this one, but how much of it will be healthy? Chicago will get Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews back for Game 1, but the Blues have a lot list of injured forwards, including Patrik Berglund, Brenden Morrow, Vladimir Sobotka, T.J. Oshie, David Backes, and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Colorado Avalanche versus Minnesota Wild
The Avalanche’s turnaround under rookie coach and Hall of Famer Patrick Roy has been spectacular, but can they take that momentum into the playoffs? The Wild are going into this series as the underdogs, but expectations will still be high for them to perform in the second season of the Ryan Suter/Zach Parise era.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:05 AM EST
Battle of California tonight.
Dec 27, 2014, 11:47 PM EST
Some controversy in this game, too.
Dec 27, 2014, 11:02 PM EST
Same old, same old.
Dec 27, 2014, 10:48 PM EST
Holy puck possession!
Dec 27, 2014, 10:27 PM EST
Physical game between these teams.
Dec 27, 2014, 9:46 PM EST
These teams, as we all know, don’t care for each other.
Dec 27, 2014, 9:32 PM EST
Dec 27, 2014, 8:48 PM EST
This had been brewing for some time.
Dec 27, 2014, 8:27 PM EST
No call on the play.
Dec 27, 2014, 8:05 PM EST
Injury occurred on a clean hit along the boards.
Dec 27, 2014, 7:28 PM EST
Interesting times for the Devils.
Dec 27, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
Starting to tighten up in the Eastern Conference standings.
Dec 27, 2014, 6:26 PM EST
Minnesota has recalled John Curry.
Dec 27, 2014, 6:02 PM EST
Was fired three games into the 2013-14 season.
Dec 27, 2014, 5:24 PM EST
St. Louis will host the Dallas Stars.
Dec 27, 2014, 4:46 PM EST
Will that last?
Dec 27, 2014, 4:15 PM EST
He’s been dealing with a back injury.
Dec 27, 2014, 3:27 PM EST
There was plenty of controversy surrounding the single-punch incident on Nov. 21.
Dec 27, 2014, 2:32 PM EST
Jagr from less than two weeks ago: “(Firing DeBoer) would be one of the biggest mistakes they could make.”
Dec 27, 2014, 1:37 PM EST
He missed four games.
- Video: Nyquist scores OT winner on incredible individual effort 1
- Video: Ovechkin crushes Letang, Capitals cruise by the Penguins 3
- Video: Prout, Lucic drop the gloves in highly anticipated scrap 50
- Video: NHL on NBC panel breaks down the coaching situation in New Jersey 2
- Lou Lamoriello unveils highly unorthodox coaching plan 37
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Kings renew hostilities 3
- NHL on NBCSN: Can Capitals take advantage of depleted Penguins? 2
- Team Canada crushes Slovakia 14
- Criticism spreads to GM Lou Lamoriello after Devils fire DeBoer 10
- Eichel earns assist and scores in shootout as U.S. squeaks by Finland 2
- Sabres aren’t happy with league’s decision regarding Bartkowski (76)
- Report: NHL won’t hold hearing for Bartkowski hit (55)
- Video: Prout, Lucic drop the gloves in highly anticipated scrap (50)
- Video: Bartkowski delivers controversial hit to Gionta, fights Foligno (47)
- Could Malkin be the next player to be fined for diving? (43)