If the playoffs started today, the playoff teams/matchups would be as follows (based on stats/standings as of midnight EST 12/26*) —
(home ice vs other)
Rangers (1) vs Senators (8)
Bruins (2) vs Devils (7)
Panthers (3) vs Maple Leafs (6)
Flyers (4) vs Penguins (5)
WEST : updated
Blackhawks (1) vs Predators (8)
Vancouver (2) vs Dallas (7)
Sharks (3) vs Wild (6)
Blues (4) vs Red Wings (5)
Those would be at least
6 4 pretty darn awesome first round series. (I think Rangers and Bruins would own their opponents… and VAN would probably own DAL … Sharks vs Wild would be a, uh, wild card … but it’s the playoffs, you never know what happens.)
Seven of those teams were not in the playoffs last April (OTT, NJ, FLA, TOR, MN, DAL, STL).
* updated. VAN winning & SJS losing changed the top 8 spots more than I expected.