All 16 playoff teams decided; seeds still TBD
Sunday, 04.28.2013 / 1:48 AM / Drive to the Playoffs
By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist
The 16 teams that will take part in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs have been settled, though some of the first-round pairings are still up in the air.
The Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild completed the playoff field on Saturday by winning their regular-season finales on the road. The Red Wings beat the Dallas Stars 3-0, while the Wild defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-1.
That left the Red Wings in seventh place with 56 points and the Wild in eighth with 55. Both teams needed the victories because the Columbus Blue Jackets won their final game by rallying past the Nashville Predators 3-1. The Blue Jackets and Wild both finished with 55 points, but Minnesota finished eighth and Columbus ninth because the Wild had more non-shootout wins.
The Wild will open the playoffs next week against the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's regular-season champion. Detroit will begin the playoffs next week in Southern California against the Pacific Division winners, the Anaheim Ducks, who are seeded second.
The remaining pairings were determined after Saturday's late game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. The Kings' 3-2 victory earned them the fifth seed and a meeting with the St. Louis Blues, a team they swept last spring on the way to the Stanley Cup. The Blues capped a superb April by beating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 on Saturday to earn the fourth seed and the home-ice advantage.
San Jose's loss dropped the Sharks to the sixth seed and a meeting with the Northwest Division champion Vancouver Canucks. The Sharks won all three meetings with Vancouver during the regular season, but closed the season by losing three of their last four games when a better showing could have earned them the home-ice edge. The Canucks finished their season with a 7-2 blowout loss to the Edmonton Oilers and dropped three of their last five games. No. 1 goaltender Cory Schneider sat out the last two with an undisclosed injury, though the Canucks profess confidence that he'll be ready to go next week.
Three of the four pairings in the Eastern Conference won't be decided until Sunday, when the Boston Bruins host the Ottawa Senators in a game that's being played one night after the scheduled end of the regular season after being postponed due to the Boston Marathon tragedy.
The one pairing in the East that's set is the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. The Rangers locked up sixth place on Saturday when they beat the New Jersey Devils 4-0 and the Senators lost 2-1 at home to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers and Capitals are meeting in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
The top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins will face either the Senators or New York Islanders. Ottawa can finish seventh by getting one point against the Bruins; a regulation loss will leave them in eighth place.
The Bruins need a victory of any kind against the Senators to win the Northeast Division and the second seed. They enter Sunday with 62 points after a 3-2 overtime loss at Washington -- one behind the Montreal Canadiens, who beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. If the Bruins don't beat Ottawa, the Canadiens will win the division and the second seed.
The second-place team in the Northeast Division gets the fourth seed and will have the home-ice edge in its opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Maple Leafs locked up fifth place when the Senators lost to the Flyers.