The 2013 NHL regular season is winding down and will conclude Sunday night with Ottawa vs. Boston.
Two days later, the 2013 NHL playoffs will begin, marking the start of a two-month journey to crown a Stanley Cup champion. The defending champion Los Angeles Kings won't have nearly as difficult a path as they did a year ago, winning it all as an under-the-radar No. 8 seed out West, but the task will still be tough.
After all, the Chicago Blackhawks are the real deal in the Western Conference, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are every bit as potent on the other side of the playoff bracket.
In that playoff spirit, here, we'll get you set with everything you need to know to make sure you don't miss a minute of this weekend's postseason schedule release.
What: 2013 NHL Playoff Schedule Release
When: Sunday, April 28 at 11 p.m. ET
Watch: NHL Network
Top Potential First-Round Matchups
No. 2 Boston Bruins vs. No. 7 New York Rangers
The 2011 Stanley Cup champions could potentially open up the 2013 playoffs against the New York Rangers, a team that has been playing strong hockey as of late.
The Rangers have won seven of their last 10 games coming into the final weekend of the regular season and took two of three meetings from the Bruins this year. It's no secret that Boston and New York aren't the best of friends either; these two East Coast cities have given us Red Sox-Yankees and Patriots-Giants.
Fans could anticipate phenomenal defensive hockey in this series. Boston and New York rank third and fourth respectively in goals allowed this season, and the Bruins are the best penalty-killing team in the league.
No. 2 Anaheim Ducks vs. No. 7 Detroit Red Wings
In the Western Conference, it's possible that the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks would have to take on the always-tough Detroit Red Wings in the opening round. Detroit has yet to clinch a playoff berth but has won three in a row and is one point ahead of both Minnesota and Columbus with one game left to play.
Plus, like the Rangers, the Red Wings actually won the regular season series against the Ducks, 2-1.
Anaheim might be the favorite to challenge the top-seeded Blackhawks this summer, but Detroit has a championship pedigree that would make this potential series must-see television.
No. 4 Montreal Canadiens vs. No. 5 Toronto Maple Leafs
The No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup in the Eastern Conference is looking like it will be an intriguing clash between two Canadian franchises in Montreal and Toronto.
Both teams boast top-10 offenses in terms of goals per game, and Montreal boasts the fifth-best power-play percentage in the NHL at a shade over 21 percent. In this series, hockey fans could expect plenty of offensive fireworks and tons of goals.
The Canadiens and Maple Leafs will conclude the 2013 regular season Saturday in Toronto, offering a potential postseason preview for playoff-hungry NHL fans.
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