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NHL Playoffs 2011: Eastern Conference Playoff Picture Set

There is still one day left in the NHL's 2010-11 regular season, but whatever happens on Sunday is irrelevant for the Eastern Conference. The East's standings are already set, and so are the first-round playoff matchups.

Why are the matchups already set despite there being a day left in the season? Four Eastern Conference teams have one game left. One is Boston, which has locked up the third seed in the East. The Bruins can't pass second-place Philadelphia, and fourth-place Pittsburgh, which also has a game left, can't pass Boston. While Pittsburgh has more points than the Bruins right now, the Penguins didn't win their division, so the Bruins own the third seed. (The other teams with games left are Atlanta and New Jersey, which are 11th and 12th in the Eastern Conference Standings.)

With the standings set, this is what the first-round matchups look like in the East (point totals are in parentheses):

No. 1 Washington Capitals (107) vs. No. 8 New York Rangers (93)

No. 2 Philadelphia Flyers (106) vs. No. 7 Buffalo Sabres (96)

No. 3 Boston Bruins (103*) vs. No. 6 Montreal Canadiens (96)

No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins (104*) vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning (103)

*One game left (won't affect standings)

Personally I'm most looking forward to the Bruins/Canadiens matchup. That is an intense rivalry, especially with what happened to Max Pacioretty earlier this season. That should be a good one to watch. Also, here's to Steve Yzerman's Lighting hopefully knocking out the Penguins. If you're going to adopt a team to root for in the East, I think it's a pretty easy pick to get behind Yzerman and the Lightning.