NHL playoff matchups locked and loaded

After a gruelling 82-game schedule for each of the NHL's 31 teams we're finally down to the playoffs. However, it came down to the very last day of the season to figure out who's playing who. This was because the Boston Bruins still had a chance to win the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference when they took on the visiting Florida Panthers on April 8th, but ended up losing 4-2. Therefore, the Bruins will now take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in an original-six showdown while the East's top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning will face off against the New Jersey Devils.

Let's check out the eight playoff matchups since they get underway this Wednesday, April 11th and may very well take a couple of months to crown the eventual Stanley Cup winner as all series follow the best four-out-of-seven format.

Over in the East we have the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning taking on the second wildcard team the New Jersey Devils. This is New Jersey's first postseason appearance since 2011/12 when they lost the Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings. As mentioned, the second-seeded Atlantic Division Boston Bruins take on the third-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs and the Leafs are hoping to snap their 51-year Stanley Cup drought. 

The Metropolitan Division-winning Washington Capitals will be meeting the first Eastern wildcard team the Columbus Blue Jackets and there's an all-Pennsylvania showdown as the second-seeded Metropolitan team the Pittsburgh Penguins will be battling it out with the third-seeded Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins are aiming to become the first team to win three straight Stanley Cups since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980 to 1983.

In the Western Conference, the top-seeded team and Central Division-winning Nashville Predators will be taking on the second wildcard club the Colorado Avalanche. The second and third-seeded sides in the Central Division square off against each other as the Winnipeg Jets will duel with the Minnesota Wild. We also have the first-year expansion and Pacific Division-winning Vegas Golden Knights meeting the first wildcard Los Angeles Kings as the Knights enter the first playoff round in the club's short history. And the final matchup will see the second and third-seeded Pacific Division squads the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks clashing with each other.

With the regular season now over we already know the winners of some of the silverware. Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers led the league in scoring for the second straight season with 41 goals and 67 assists for 108 points to capture the Art Ross Trophy. Russian sniper Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals won his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals as he notched 49. Los Angeles Kings' goalie Jonathan Quick won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the second time in his career as the goaltender to allow the fewest goals against while playing a minimum of 25 games. Quick ranked ninth in wins with 33, 10th in goals-against-average at 2.40 and tied for fourth in shutouts with five.

The NHL's playoff format isn't without controversy though since two of the league's top four teams will be eliminated after the second round. This means two of Nashville, Tampa, Winnipeg and Boston will be going home and it's due to the fact the top two clubs in each conference could meet each other in round two. This will happen if Nashville and Winnipeg win their series in the West and Tampa and Boston win theirs in the East. The current format will remain in effect until after the 2019/20 season though.