The playoff matchups in the NHL have been set after a busy Friday night of games. The Tampa Bay Lightning needed to lose their game to the Islanders, and see the Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs to fall into a wild card position and play the Hurricanes.

Some polling in the morning of Friday indicated the Bolts were a lot more interested in playing through the Metro than the Atlantic, and who can blame them. The Bruins also seemed very interested in staying on the Metro side, as they kept six regulars out of the lineup against the Leafs.

Lightning Round: Toronto or Carolina?
Leafs beat the Bruins to ensure they play the Stanley Cup champs in 1st round

The Bruins wish came true, they lost to the Leafs 5-2, led by two goals from Willy Nylander, and get to play the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. The Lightning were also losing for much of the night, until a five-goal third period and a hat trick from Steven Stamkos gave them the win over the Islanders.

That sealed fate: Leafs vs. Lightning in the first round. The team that can’t win a round vs the one that’s won eight in the past two years.

The Schedule

It also sealed the opening round schedule, which was released late last night. Here it is:

  1. Game 1 – Lightning @ Maple Leafs on Monday, May 2 (Scotiabank Arena) 7:30 p.m.
  2. Game 2 – Lightning @ Maple Leafs on Wednesday, May 4 (Scotiabank Arena) 7:30 p.m.
  3. Game 3 – Maple Leafs @ Lightning on Friday, May 6 (AMALIE Arena) 7:30 p.m.
  4. Game 4 – Maple Leafs @ Lightning on Sunday, May 8 (AMALIE Arena) 7 p.m.
  5. Game 5 – Lightning @ Maple Leafs on Tuesday, May 10 (Scotiabank Arena) * if necessary
  6. Game 6 – Maple Leafs @ Lightning on Thursday, May 12 (AMALIE Arena) *if necessary
  7. Game 7 – Lightning @ Maple Leafs on Saturday, May 14 (Scotiabank Arena) *if necessary

No back-to-backs, so the Leafs and Lightning will play every other day from Monday until next Saturday, if necessary. The Leafs have home ice advantage, so they get games 1, 2, 5, and 7. The Leafs haven’t been the home team in a playoff series (ignoring the pandemic) since 2004 when they beat Ottawa in seven games.

Injuries and the Lineup

We will see on Sunday when the Leafs have their last practice before the playoffs begin what the official lineup will be to start Game 1.

Currently Michael Bunting and Ondřej Kaše are out still, although Kaše has been skating in a red jersey this week. Sheldon Keefe has done nothing but project William Nylander will start on the third line away from John Tavares. We shall see if he reunites them for the first round or sticks to what he’s been doing.

Rasmus Sandin, who didn’t play in the last game of the season, is probably going to stay out as the team’s 8th defenseman. Justin Holl or Jake Muzzin (depending on how he’s feeling) will likely be the other guy out. Muzzin was stepping up and hitting guys for the first time in a while last night against the Bruins, and has had very good numbers as of late. There’s a chance he’s returned to some version of his previous self after the injury-plagued season.

The First Round

The official first round matchups in the East are as follows:

  • Florida Panthers (1) vs. Washington Capitals (WC2)
  • Carolina Hurricanes (1) vs. Boston Bruins (WC1)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (3)
  • New York Rangers (2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (3)/

By conference, the matchups are 1v8, 2v6, 3v5, and 4v7. The Rangers get the best matchup thanks to the divisional setup. Leafs and Hurricanes get it slightly worse.

The West:

  • Colorado Avalanche (1) vs. Nashville Predators (WC2)
  • Calgary Flames (1) vs. Dallas Stars (WC1)
  • Minnesota Wild (2) vs. St. Louis Blues (3)
  • Edmonton Oilers (2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (3)/

By conference, the matchups are 1v8, 2v7, 3v4, 5v6. Minnesota and St. Louis should both be pissed at this result.

Game Timings

We know the Leafs are starting their playoffs on Monday and will play every other day until it’s done. This is also true for all the other series, meaning the opening schedule is very regular. The Leafs will be playing on the same night as Boston/Carolina, Minnesota/St. Louis, and Edmonton/Los Angeles. The other four series start on Tuesday and play on those off-days.

Most of the Leafs game will start at 7:30pm, while the Bruins series will be at 7pm, except for Sunday, May 8th, which will have Boston as a matinee and the Leafs on at 7pm. If only the NHL could maximize this kind of viewing all season long.

Various Leafs and Branches

Leafs beat the Bruins to ensure they play the Stanley Cup champs in 1st round | by: Katya

Maple Leafs sign Bobby McMann to a 2-year deal | by: Katya

The Montreal Canadiens (the 32nd team in the league) filled him with 10 goals on 37 shots last night! Is Florida sure they want to keep him as an RFA?

This was very cool and awesome.

Mar Mar Superstar!

Updated to add: