Can they play them? A who's who of potential round one opponents for Bruins

Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

With the exception of two seeds and two teams, everything remains on the table for the Boston Bruins.

Unable to secure a top-two seed in the 2020 playoffs after dropping their first two games of their three-game round-robin tournament for seeding and still in the basement of said tourney, the Bruins do remain alive for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. That's thanks to some help from the Flyers, who defeated the Capitals by a 3-1 final on Thursday, setting Boston and Washington up for a Sunday finale where there's actually something to play for.

Should the Capitals, who have one point in the round-robin thanks to their 0-1-1 record, defeat the Bruins in any fashion on Sunday, they'll punch their ticket to the No. 3 seed by way of an unmatchable three points. Conversely, any Bruins would push the B's ahead of the Capitals, as a regulation win would move Boston into the No. 3 with two points, while an overtime/shootout win would give each team two points through four games. In that instance, the tiebreaker (regular-season point percentage) would go to the Bruins, giving them the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

What happens from there, however, is anybody's guess.

So here's how every option could shake out for Bruce Cassidy's squad...

No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins 

The Penguins were eliminated by the No. 12 seed Canadiens in four games.

May 12, 2019; Boston, MA: Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk shoots on Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek during the first period in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)
May 12, 2019; Boston, MA: Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk shoots on Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek during the first period in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes

Can Bruins play them? Yes.

How? If the Bruins remain in the No. 4 seed with a Sunday loss to the Capitals, and with the Canadiens eliminating the Penguins in their play-in round, the Hurricanes will be the highest remaining seed from the play-in round, meaning they'd draw the lowest seed from the round-robin tourney.

This would be a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals series, which saw the Bruins eliminate the 'Canes in a four-game sweep. The B's took their only 2019-20 head-to-head with Carolina by a 2-0 final.

The (Simplified) Paths to Boston vs. Carolina: Bruins lose to Capitals.

No. 7 New York Islanders 

Can Bruins play them? Yes.

How? The Islanders punched their ticket to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a Game 4 win over the Panthers on Friday. if the Bruins move into the No. 3 seed with a win over the Capitals on Sunday, the Bruins and Islanders will square off in their first postseason series since the 1983 conference final. Boston went 2-0-1 against the Isles in 2019-20.

The (Simplified) Path to Boston vs. New York: Bruins defeat Capitals.

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins skates against Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on October 19, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs

Can Bruins play them? No.

How come? To get the Bruins and Maple Leafs in round one for the third year in a row, the Bruins needed the Panthers to pull off the comeback and win their play-in series against the Islanders and the Canadiens to eliminate the Penguins. The latter could happen, but the former did not, making the Isles the second or third-highest seed from the play-in round.

No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets

Can Bruins play them? No.

How come? Similar to the Leafs' path to Boston, the Blue Jackets needed the Panthers to come back against Isles to have a chance at a Boston rematch from last year's second round. That did not happen.

No. 10 Florida Panthers

The Panthers were eliminated by the Islanders in a four-game series loss.

No. 11 New York Rangers

The Rangers were eliminated by the Hurricanes in a three-game sweep.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 01: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins and Jake DeBrusk #74 fight Brendan Gallagher #11 of the Montreal Canadiens and Gustav Olofsson #51 during the second period at TD Garden on December 01, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

No. 12 Montreal Canadiens

Can Bruins play them? No.

How come? After sending Sidney Crosby and the Penguins home, the Canadiens will play either the Flyers or Lightning in the first round, as they will enter the true 2020 postseason as the East's lowest seed.

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.