West NHL playoff matchups set after Stars finish third, Blues slip to fourth
With the Stars beating the Blues 2-1 via a shootout, the West NHL matchups are all set for the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blues joined the Bruins as teams that finished the regular season at the top of their conferences but sank to the fourth seed thanks to rough round-robin showings, while the Stars rose a spot to third. In case you missed it, the Golden Knights took first by beating the Avalanche, who settled for second in the West.
Meanwhile, three of the four East NHL matchups are set for the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as the Lightning await the winner of Game 5 of Blue Jackets - Maple Leafs (on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET; livestream).
The Blues held a 1-0 lead for much of the round-robin game. Joe Pavelski then tied things up 1-1 in the dying seconds, however, setting the stage for the Stars to snatch the third seed via a shootout. It all felt ... fitting.
Jeff Vinnick of Getty Images got an exclusive shot of fans who will miss the round-robin games:
[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
All West NHL matchups set for 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 12. Chicago Blackhawks
Robin Lehner against the team he briefly played for this season? Fun/awkward.
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 11. Arizona Coyotes
Taylor Hall against Nathan MacKinnon and the rising Avs could make for good theater.
3. Dallas Stars vs. 8. Calgary Flames
Calgary could be a threat, although the Flames have been up-and-down.
4. St. Louis Blues vs. 7. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks boast quite a bit of starpower for a lower seed (although the West presents multiple lower seeds that, while flawed, have some big names).
Three of four Eastern Conference matchups now set for 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs
1. Philadelphia Flyers vs. 12. Montreal Canadiens
(Yes, that still feels weird on a few levels.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. winner of Blue Jackets/Maple Leafs Game 5
Who would you prefer to face if you were the Lightning?
3. Washington Capitals vs. 7. New York Islanders
The Capitals vs. former head coach Barry Trotz? Not bad.
4. Boston Bruins vs. 6. Carolina Hurricanes
Tough draw for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins, huh? Boston needs to hope that the Hurricanes got a little rusty after quickly sweeping the Rangers.