Hours before the first of three Eastern Conference Game 7s was set to begin, the NHL announced its plans for the West.
The Round 2 series between Phoenix and Nashville will begin on Friday, followed by the commencement of St. Louis-Los Angeles on Saturday.
Here’s the rundown in full:
No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. No. 4 Nashville Predators
Game 1: Friday, Apr. 27 at Phoenix
Game 2: Sunday, Apr. 29 at Phoenix
Game 3: Wednesday, May 2 at Nashville
Game 4: Friday, May 4 at Nashville
No. 2 St. Louis Blues at No. 8 Los Angeles Kings
Game 1: Saturday, Apr. 28 at St. Louis
Game 2: Monday, Apr. 30 at St. Louis
Game 3: Thursday, May 3 at L.A.
Game 4: Sunday, May 6 at L.A.
— The Blues and Predators will have the longest layoffs (seven days). The Kings will have six days off between games, the Coyotes four.
— Much like in the first round, scheduling Kings games at the Staples Center is a difficult task. The NBA playoffs begin on Apr. 28 with the Lakers and Clippers both angling for home-court advantage in the first round.
— The complete Eastern and Western Conference Semifinals schedule, including start times and television information, will be released after the New York-Ottawa and Florida-New Jersey games Thursday night.
Darren Dreger took a few minutes to name a couple teams that might upset their higher seed opponents, highlight what he thinks are the most compelling first round series, and offer his pick for the under the radar team of the 2012 playoffs. You can find out more by checking out the video below:
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Be sure to take a look at our series-by-series playoff previews. Also, if you haven’t already, you might want to familiarize yourself with the full first-round schedule.
The Florida Panthers won their first-ever Southeast Division title tonight, earning themselves a surprise third seed. That will give the surprise upstart from Sunrise home ice advantage in the first round, but many will probably choose the sixth seed New Jersey Devils as the odds-on favorite. There are plenty of reasons to think that way, but here are a few:
- The Devils carry virtually all of the biggest names in this series, from Martin Brodeur to Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise.
- New Jersey finished this season with a +19 goal differential; Florida’s -24 is by far the worst of any playoff team (in fact, it’s fifth-worst in the East).
- Sure, the Devils feasted on three-point games in their own right (12 shootout wins), but that’s nothing compared to Florida milking 18 charity points out of this season.
And that’s just the simplest stuff.
Still, the two teams tied their season series 2-2, so it’s not like New Jersey dominated Florida in 2011-12. Oh yeah, there’s also an interesting storyline for those who always want to find a juicy narrative: former Panthers coach Peter DeBoer sits behind the Devils bench. Surely he’d enjoy a little revenge on the team that didn’t give him a great chance to succeed, wouldn’t he?
The New Jersey Devils didn’t have much to play for on Saturday, but their 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators made tonight more interesting – especially for the Washington Capitals.
To keep things simple, here are the scenarios for the Capitals, whose game against the New York Rangers airs on NBC Sports Network tonight:
Washington could win the third seed if: the Capitals win and the Florida Panthers (at Carolina) lose in regulation.
Capitals could move up to seventh place if: they beat the Rangers in regulation, overtime or via a shootout. (Washington holds tiebreaker advantages against Ottawa.)
Capitals would stay in eighth place if: Florida gains one point, Washington fails to win or both. (The Capitals hold a tiebreaker advantage over the Panthers but Florida has a two-point lead.)
In other words, there’s plenty to play for tonight. And if you ask John Tortorella, the Presidents’ Trophy is worth something to the Rangers, so don’t expect New York to roll over at Madison Square Garden.
(Note: if Washington does win the Southeast Division, Ottawa would remain in seventh place while Florida would take the eighth seed.)