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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021: Updated Standings, Bracket and Top Must-See Games

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2021

Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (above) celebrates his winning goal with defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) in the overtime period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Boston.  (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

The 2021 NHL Stanley Cup playoff field is set. Under this season's realignment, the playoffs will be division-based, with the top seed facing the fourth, the second facing the third and the winners facing off in Round 2.

Once the divisional rounds are complete, the four winners will be reseeded. All playoff series will be best-of-seven.

The playoff field is as follows:

NHL @NHL

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Round 1 is set to kick off Saturday, with the Boston Bruins taking on the Washington Capitals. Sunday will bring a triple-header, with the New York Islanders battling the Pittsburgh Penguin, the Minnesota Wild facing the Vegas Golden Knights and the Tampa Bay Lightning taking on the Florida Panthers.

The Nashville Predators will take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. The St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche will also face off on Monday.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens are all in for the North Division—though play won't begin late next week. The Leafs and Canadiens are set to face off on Thursday, while the Jets and Oilers will battle one day earlier.

                

2021 NHL Standings

Central Division

1. Carolina Hurricanes

2. Florida Panthers

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

4. Nashville Predators

5. Dallas Stars

6. Chicago Blackhawks

7. Detroit Red Wings

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

         

East Division

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

2. Washington Capitals

3. Boston Bruins

4. New York Islanders

5. New York Rangers

6. Philadelphia Flyers

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Buffalo Sabres

          

Wast Division

1. Colorado Avalanche

2. Vegas Golden Knights

3. Minnesota Wild

4. St. Louis Blues

5. Arizona Coyotes

6. L.A. Kings

7. San Jose Sharks

8. Anaheim Ducks

            

North Division

1. Toronto Maple Leafs

2. Edmonton Oilers

3. Winnipeg Jets

4. Montreal Canadiens

5. Calgary Flames

6. Ottawa Senators

7. Vancouver Canucks

              

Must-See Games

Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals

When: Saturday, May 15

Time: 7:15 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream NBC, NBCSports.com

  

The Bruins and Capitals kick off the postseason, which is enough reason to watch for most fans. As an added element, Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara will face his former team—which could provide Washington with an edge.

"Obviously, playing for this coaching staff for as long as Zdeno has and playing with the players that he has for his tenure here in Boston, you certainly know some tendencies," Bruins president Cam Neely said, per Tim Rosenthal of Boston.com. "Guys are aware of that."

Whether Chara's knowledge is enough to upset the red-hot Bruins remains to be seen. Boston was won six of its past 10 games. However, the storyline adds some intrigue to the No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup.

The Bruins and Capitals last played Tuesday—in a relatively meaningless game—with Washington taking home a 2-1 victory.

              

Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights

When: Sunday, May 16

Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: NBC, NBCSports.com

    

The Golden Knights surged on to the NHL Stage during the 2017-18 season, making the Stanley Cup Final in the first year of the franchise's existence. Vegas made the postseason in each of its first three years and is back for Year 4.

However, Minnesota knows the Knights well and has a health advantage, as The Athletic's Michael Russo recently pointed out: "No NHL team has more victories than the Wild's 11 against the Golden Knights since the team's inception, and Vegas is very banged up, with Pacioretty, Martinez, Ryan Reaves and Tomas Nosek all missing games down the stretch."

While this might not qualify as a grudge match, it will be fun to watch two familiar foes face off for a spot in the West Division finals.

Vegas and Minnesota last played May 5, with the Golden Knights earning a 3-2 overtime win.

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