The NHL playoffs will kick off in three weeks, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about postseason matchups. The Boston Bruins clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Avalanche on Friday, so which Bruins divisional opponent do you think would be the toughest playoff matchup?
If the NHL playoffs started today, the Bruins would square off against a struggling Toronto Maple Leafs team. After dropping five games in a row, the Maple Leafs find themselves clinging to one of the two wild card playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Injuries have doomed Toronto this season, as Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak have both missed significant time, but if they can turn things around in their final nine games, a playoff rematch with the B’s would certainly be interesting.
The Detroit Red Wings are also fighting for their playoff lives as they hope to make the postseason for the 23rd consecutive season. The Red Wings currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and despite injuries to Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, they remain in the hunt for a berth. Detroit’s young guns, like Tomas Tatar, Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist have stepped up and contributed, and with Datsyuk skating again, this team could be a surprise come playoff time.
The Bruins are running away with the Atlantic Division, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are making a serious push for second place, which would give them home-ice advantage in the playoffs. The Bolts, with 87 points, are currently tied for second with the Montreal Canadiens and they will have the luxury of playing six straight home games in April. With the addition of Ryan Callahan and a healthy Steven Stamkos back in the lineup, the young Tampa Bay squad will look to open some eyes in its first postseason appearance since 2011.
Finally, on Monday night we were treated to a preview of what a Canadiens-Bruins playoff matchup would look like and it did not disappoint. The physicality level was through the roof and the two teams’ hatred toward each other was on full display as Montreal topped their rivals in a 2-1 shootout victory. The Canadiens won the season series 3-1 and a playoff matchup would certainly be a battle.