National Hockey League Playoff Picture

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Chicago Black Hawks
NHL Photo credit: Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images


THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – The Montreal Canadiens are the only Canadian team headed to the NHL Playoffs. The Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Ottawa Senators are all heading to the doors of hockey arenas and off to the golf links as the regular season closes.

That means Canadian hockey fans, of course including Toronto Maple Leaf fans have choices. They can either cheer for the Habs, of one of the American based NHL teams that made the playoffs.

Fortunately for Canadian hockey fans, the depth of Canadian talent in the National Hockey League is deep.

It won’t matter what team you cheer for, their best players will be Canadian born.

From the NHL here are is the playoff picture:

Sunday marks the conclusion to 2013-14 NHL regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 16, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

The matchups in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs were finalized Saturday night.

The Columbus Blue Jackets secured the first wild card with a 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers and move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round of the playoffs. That meant the Detroit Red Wings landed the second wild card and will battle the Boston Bruins.

In the other Eastern Conference series, the New York Rangers, who finished second in the Metropolitan Division, will play the Philadelphia Flyers, who finished third. The second- and third-place finishers in the Atlantic Division — the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens — will also go head-to-head.

However, it will require the final day of the regular season to determine whether the Lightning or Canadiens will have home-ice advantage in the first round.

Tampa Bay can secure home ice with a victory against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Sunday. If the Lightning fail to get the two points, the series will open at Bell Centre in Montreal.

The Anaheim Ducks, who beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in a shootout Saturday, clinched the top seed in the Western Conference when they extended the game past regulation. Anaheim will face the Dallas Stars in the first round of the playoffs. It’s the second and only other guaranteed matchup; the Kings will face the San Jose Sharks in another first-round series.

The Central Division title is still up for grabs and will be decided Sunday. The St. Louis Blues, who have lost five in a row, will host the Detroit Red Wings at Scottrade Center (12:30 p.m.; NBC, TSN). The Colorado Avalanche will know what they have to do before their game in Anaheim, which begins at 8 p.m. ET.

St. Louis and Colorado each have 111 points, but the Avalanche own the tiebreaker. The division winner will face the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs, while the loser finishes second and gets the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago Black Hawks
NHL Photo credit: Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images