By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
An Elimination Friday in the NHL has left the Boston Bruins with two possible opponents for the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs: the Carolina Hurricanes or New York Islanders.
Beginning the day with six possible options in round one, the Isles' elimination of the Florida Panthers in a 12 p.m. affair wiped the Panthers, as well as the No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs and No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets, off the board as potential opponents for the Bruins. That came with New York's victory guaranteeing them no worse than the third-highest seed among the play-in winners, and that was secured as the second-highest seed by way of Montreal eliminating the Penguins in a 2-0 Game 4.
Carolina, meanwhile, has been chilling as either the top play-in seed or second-highest play-in seed since eliminating the Rangers earlier this week. Pittsburgh's aforementioned loss, of course, made Carolina the highest-seeded play-in squad.
So how does this play out for the Bruins?
It now looks like this for Bruins...Beat Capitals in any fashion on Sunday, play Islanders in first round. Lose to Capitals in any fashion on Sunday, play Hurricanes in first round.
With the No. 3 seed still on the table, a win (in any fashion) over the Capitals on Sunday will push the Bruins into the three spot, where they will draw the No. 7 Islanders in the first round. A regulation win gives the B's two points in the round-robin tourney (1-2-0) compared to one for the Capitals (0-2-1), while an overtime/shootout win would give each team two points, with the tiebreaker going to the Bruins thanks to Boston's stronger regular-season points percentage.
The Bruins took this year's season series against the Islanders by way of a 2-0-1 record, and have won five of six contests against the Barry Trotz-led Isles since the start of the 2018-19 season. The B's have outscored New York 19-7 over that six-game stretch. The Bruins and Islanders have not met in the postseason since the 1983 conference final.
On the other hand, a loss of any sort to the Capitals on Sunday will give Washington the No. 3 seed and put the Bruins in the No. 4 spot, where they will draw the No. 6 seed Hurricanes in the first round.
Boston took their only 2019-20 head-to-head with the Hurricanes. A Boston-Carolina opening-round series would be a rematch of last year's battle for the Prince of Wales Trophy, which saw the Bruins sweep the 'Canes in four straight.
Sunday's puck-drop between the B's and Capitals has yet to be determined.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.