The 2021-22 NHL regular season wraps up on Friday (for the most part). The only other game to be played following Friday is between two non-playoff teams in the Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets. So Friday will be the last day for teams trying to improve or drop down in the standings. We’ll go over why that makes sense a bit below. Anyway, let’s take a look at some key matchups and how they’ll impact seeding for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
NHL playoff scenarios, Friday, April 29
Bruins clinch No. 3 seed with win and TB loss
Lightning clinch No. 3 seed with win or BOS loss in regulation
The Bruins need a win in this game to move up to the No. 3 seed to face this same Maple Leafs team in the first round. The Bruins would also need the Tampa Bay Lightning to lose to the New York Islanders. It’s a tough call if you’re the Lightning — whether or not to tank the game and face the Carolina Hurricanes rather than Toronto.
The Bolts are better on the season against the Leafs. That shouldn’t mean much in the first round. Toronto has a much more experienced roster compared to Carolina, which has been knocked out of the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. We know this stuff doesn’t matter to Jon Cooper or the Lightning players, really.
As for the Bruins, you’d have to think they’d prefer to face the Maple Leafs knowing how they’ve performed against them historically in the postseason. The Bruins haven’t lost in the first round since 2017. Boston has defeated Toronto in the playoffs three times in the past six seasons. This Maple Leafs team is no joke, but it’s hockey — history matters and you know the players will have that on their minds.
Penguins clinch No. 3 seed with win or WSH loss in regulation
Capitals clinch No. 3 seed with win and PIT loss in regulation
This matters a decent amount. The Pens will have to face the New York Rangers in the first round if the season were to end now. The Caps have to take on the top-seeded Florida Panthers in the first round. So there’s some incentive for both teams to try and avoid facing the Panthers. If you’re the Rangers, you’d rather face the streaky Penguins than the Capitals at this point. The Pens beat the Rangers the last time these two teams met in the postseason back in 2016.
Predators clinch WC1 with win or DAL loss in regulation
Stars clinch WC1 with win and NSH loss in regulation
The Preds can take the first WC from the West with a win on Friday night. It’s the difference between playing the Colorado Avalanche or the Calgary Flames, which doesn’t seem too important. The Flames have had less success in the postseason since making the Stanley Cup Final back in 2004. The Flames haven’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs in that span. It still feels like a “pick your poison” type of deal, so I don’t know if we see either team care much about where they fall in the seeding.