NHL: Eastern Conference Playoff Picture, Scenarios

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May 29, 2014; New York, NY, USA; The New York Rangers pose with the Prince of Whales Trophy after beating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in game six of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

Even though it’s only the Prince of Wales trophy, the idea of how tough it is to defend a championship still rings true.

The Rangers right now have one game left, and are waiting around to see which of the five possible opponents will come to Madison Square Garden for Game 1 of the first-round.

As far as the rest of the East is concerned, here’s what it currently looks like:

***Legend: PTS=Points, ROW=Regulation and Overtime Wins, GR=Games Remaining (ROW is the first tiebreaker if PTS are even)

Metropolitan Division:

Mar 19, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) before the game against Carolina Hurricanes at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

  1. New York Rangers – 111 PTS, 52 ROW, 1 GR
  2. Washington Capitals – 101 PTS, 45 ROW, 1 GR
  3. New York Islanders – 98 PTS, 46 ROW, 2 GR

Atlantic Division:

  1. Montreal Canadiens – 108 PTS, 49 ROW, 1 GR
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning – 106 PTS, 49 ROW, 1 GR
  3. Detroit Red Wings – 98 PTS, 42 ROW, 1 GR

Wild Cards:

  1. Ottawa Senators – 97 PTS, 42 ROW, 1 GR
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins – 96 PTS, 42 ROW, 2 GR
  3. Boston Bruins – 95 PTS, 41 ROW, 1 GR

Matchups If Playoffs Ended Now:

  • Metro 1: Rangers vs. Wild Card 2: Penguins
  • Metro 2: Capitals vs. Metro 3: Islanders
  • Atlantic 1: Canadiens vs. Wild Card 1: Senators
  • Atlantic 2: Lighting vs. Atlantic 3: Red Wings

Here’s What We Know:

Everybody has clinched a playoff spot except the Senators, Penguins and of course Bruins, who find themselves on the outside looking in at the moment.

Rangers will be matched-up with the second Wild Card team, which are the Pens right now.

The game between the Penguins and the Islanders on Friday night will be ultra critical in determining how the East will shake out.

All 30 NHL teams end the regular season on Saturday with a game.

The Rangers game against the Capitals on Saturday means nothing for the Rangers – it could mean something for the Capitals in maintaining home ice advantage (If Islanders win Friday night).

Most likely, the Lightning and Red Wings will be matched-up in the first round because the Canadiens play the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (which should lock up the Atlantic Division championship), and the Red Wings will probably take care of the Hurricanes.

Even if the Penguins do lose Friday night against the Isles, because they play the terrible Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, they’ll most likely find a way in.

More from Rangers News


  • If the Islanders pickup one-point in their final two-games, the Rangers will not see them in the first-round.
  • The Islanders need three-points in their final two-games and the Caps to lose to the Rangers on Saturday to pickup home-ice advantage; or grab four-points and have the Caps only collect a single-point against the Rangers.
  • The Penguins control their own destiny to make the playoffs and finish as the No. 1 Wild Card or even the No 3 seed in Metropolitan Division (if Isles lose on Saturday also) because they have two games remaining.
  • If the Penguins do win their last two games, the Rangers will play either the Senators or Bruins.
  • The Senators will clinch a playoff spot win one-point against the Flyers.
  • The Bruins need to defeat the Lightning on Saturday and need major help to make the playoffs (they finished 1-1-1 against the Penguins which would only come into play if PTS and ROW are tied). So, it would actually move to the tiebreaker that comes after Head to Head if Pens pick up only one-point in last two-games and Boston wins on Saturday.
  • If Bruins win on Saturday and Senators lose to Flyers, the Bruins would make it in over the Sens (they finished 2-1 against the Sens this season – PTS and ROW would be tied).


  • Friday, April 10: Islanders @ Penguins, 7 pm ET
  • Saturday, April 11: Senators @ Flyers, 12:30 pm ET
  • Saturday, April 11: Rangers @ Capitals, 12:30 pm ET
  • Saturday, April 11: Red Wings @ Hurricanes, 7 pm ET
  • Saturday, April 11: Canadiens @ Maple Leafs, 7 pm ET
  • Saturday, April 11: Penguins @ Sabres, 7 pm ET
  • Saturday, April 11: Bruins @ Lightning, 7 pm ET

It is impossible to know who the Rangers will be playing. It’s even difficult to have a leader in the clubhouse at this point.

The Penguins playing the awful Sabres on Saturday gives us a pretty good idea they’ll at least grab two-points over these next two days. But, what’s going to happen in tonight’s game with the Pens and Isles is anyone’s guess.

Think of it this way:

  • If the Penguins grab at least a point Friday night against the Isles, then the Rangers will most likely play the Senators or the Bruins.
  • If the Pens don’t pick up any points Friday night, then it’s anybody best guess between the three teams.
  • My money is on the Senators to be the Rangers first-round opponent.
  • Because the Pens will pick up two points on Saturday, and tonight they have point possibilities, it should catapult them over Ottawa. Then, those Philadelphia Flyers will have a huge say on who New York will face in first round. If Philly beats Ottawa, and the Bruins defeat the Lightning, then Boston will be coming to New York for Round 1.
  • If you’re one that doesn’t want to see Boston, then hope either Tampa Bay can knock them off on Saturday; and/or the Sens beat the Flyers; and/or the Penguins pick up some points so they don’t fall out of the picture all together.

Now, let’s discuss each potential first-round matchup:

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