Updated NHL playoff standings, possible first-round matchups for Bruins
Updated NHL playoff standings, possible first-round matchups for Bruins originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Bruins know their playoff position.
They will be the No. 1 seed and enjoy home ice advantage throughout the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the B's still don't know which team they'll play in the first round. And they might not find out until the last day of the season.
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The reason for that is the wild card standings are pretty tight. There are three teams -- the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins -- firmly in the mix for the two playoff berths. Three others haven't yet been eliminated from playoff contention but face a very difficult path to the postseason.
The Bruins will face the No. 2 wild card team in the first round.
Here's an updated look at the wild card standings entering Wednesday night's action:
So, if the regular season ended today, the Bruins would play the Islanders in Round 1. The Islanders are probably the toughest of the three teams in contention for the two wild card spots.
The primary reason for that is Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin. He will almost certainly be a Vezina Trophy finalist and might even get several first-place votes. He ranks third among all goalies with a .923 save percentage and fifth with a 2.40 GAA. One thing that could derail Boston's path to the Stanley Cup Final is a hot goalie, and Sorokin would arguably be the best netminder the Bruins could possibly play in any round of the playoffs.
Which of these three potential first-round opponents for the Bruins worries you the most?
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The Islanders also are a tough team to play against with their aggressive forechecking, defensive structure and postseason experience. That said, the Bruins would still be the clear favorites to emerge victorious from that series. Boston went 3-0-0 versus the Islanders in the regular season and outscored them 13-6 in those matchups. However, Sorokin didn't play in any of those games.
The Panthers or Penguins would be a better first-round matchup for the Bruins. Florida and Pittsburgh don't have the same caliber goaltending and are weaker defensively than New York.