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Seeding means nothing

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Seeding means nothing in the giant game of rock Dan Hamhuis Jersey Womens , paper, scissors that is the Eastern Conference playoffs.Top-seeded Tampa Bay lost all three meetings this season against eighth-seeded New Jersey, Toronto beat Boston three out of four times and records don’t matter when Pittsburgh and Philadelphia meet in another battle of Pennsylvania. The Penguins are the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champions while the Lightning and Bruins are among the best teams in the NHL – and yet there isn’t one obvious team to beat.”In the East, anybody can beat anybody,” said Devils defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who won it all with the Penguins in 2016. ”When we’re playing our best game, I think we can beat anybody, and I think that the opposite is true. We have to be dialed in no matter who we’re playing, and we’ve done a really good job of that against the best teams in the league this year.”The Devils certainly match up better against the Lightning than they would have against the Bruins, who are in for a tough series against the Maple Leafs. Washington has had a lot of success in recent years against Columbus but has a big question of who to start in goal and the Capitals have not played the Blue Jackets and their additions at the trade deadline.Before stubbing their toe in game 82 and failing to win the Atlantic, the Bruins looked like they had the potential to be a buzz saw with Tuukka Rask in goal and enough depth to withstand injuries all season. They still might be.”You don’t want to downplay how good every other team is, but you want to be the team to beat,” Boston defenseman Torey Krug said. ”We try to play like the team that we are and play to our strengths and make sure that other teams are changing the way that they play to play against us.”That’s half the fun of the playoffs, where matchups matter more than anything than points earned during the regular season.”There’s no sitting here saying, `Who’s the best matchup?”’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. ”You need health. You need luck. You need so many things to go your way to win in the playoffs.”Goaltending doesn’t hurt Youth Pavel Zacha Jersey , either. If Tampa Bay gets the kind of Vezina Trophy-caliber play out of Andrei Vasilevskiy that he delivered for much of the season, it could go on a deep run, though the same could be said for Pittsburgh with Matt Murray, Washington with Braden Holtby or Philipp Grubauer, Columbus with Sergei Bobrovsky or Toronto with Frederik Andersen.LIGHTNING VS. DEVILSThe East’s top team for much of the year, Tampa Bay hopes Steven Stamkos is healthy after dealing with a nagging lower-body injury late in the season. Stamkos, 100-point scorer Nikita Kucherov and top defenseman Victor Hedman make the Lightning a scary opponent. The Devils aren’t scared. They have Hart Trophy candidate Taylor Hall, star rookie Nico Hischier and enough veteran playoff experience to not look out of place.”We’ve been in a playoff spot all year long and we’ve earned the right to be here, so that’s what we understand as a group,” said Devils center Brian Boyle, who went to the 2014 final with the Rangers and then the next year with the Lightning. ”We believe in what we have. The way we play, our foundations, systems, are what got us here.”BRUINS VS. MAPLE LEAFSPlenty has changed since Boston beat Toronto in seven games in 2013.The Maple Leafs added Mike Babcock as coach, Andersen in goal and have young stars Auston Matthews Authentic Taylor Hall Jersey , Mitch Marner and William Nylander.”It’s a very exciting team, a very dynamic team,” Maple Leafs deadline addition Tomas Plekanec said. ”A lot of young talent on this team.”The Bruins can go punch-for-punch with the Maple Leafs and just about anyone in the league. Led by the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, they have handled injuries to Bergeron, Rick Nash, captain Zdeno Chara and others and just keep clicking.”We feel we’ve got a pretty strong lineup and that’s been a constant all along even though we’ve missed guys,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. ”That’s just what it’s been this year. It’s just how we’re going to be. It’s become a bit of our fight song, so to speak, that, hey, we can do it and different guys in and out, guys are prepared to step in and play with whoever they’re asked to play with.”CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETSDespite losing several key players last offseason, the Capitals won the Metropolitan Division for the third consecutive year. Their reward: a matchup against Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin and the John Tortorella-coached Blue Jackets.”We’ve always thought that they’ve been a pretty good team for the last few years Womens Will Butcher Jersey , not just the last couple where they’ve had more success,” Holtby said. ”I think we’ve always had a good challenge against them. We play better against solid teams, teams that are coached well and it’s always fun to play against them. I think it’ll be a good series.”At the very least, it probably won’t be a short series.PENGUINS VS. FLYERSThese two teams don’t like each other, which should make for some fireworks in the first round. Since they last met in 2012, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins have won the Cup twice, but something about Philadelphia-Pittsburgh makes for good games.”They’re really fun games to play,” Flyers MVP candidate Claude Giroux said. ”They’re not easy games to play, but it’s easy to get up and play some hockey when you know you’re playing the Penguins.”CONFERENCE FINAL PREDICTIONToronto over Pittsburgh in seven games. Matthews outscores Crosby and the Maple Leafs make their first trip to the Cup Final since they won it all in 1967.— NEW YORK (AP) — After the New York Rangers squandered another late lead at home, goalie Henrik Lundqvist was at a loss for words.Pierre-Luc Dubois scored 31 seconds into overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat New York 4-3 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.Columbus tied the game with less than three minutes left in regulation, and the Rangers lost in extra time for the fifth time in their last six home games.“It’s really frustrating. I don’t know what to say anymore,” said Lundqvist, who made 25 saves. “That’s how it’s been going the last few weeks. It’s only on us.”The Rangers took a 3-2 lead on Chris Kreider’s second goal of the game at 12:06 of the third period and appeared to go ahead by two several minutes later on a goal by Ryan Strome, but Columbus coach John Tortorella challenged the play and it was ruled offside.Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski then tied it at 17:40 when he scored his seventh of the season after the puck went back to him at the point and he fired it past Lundqvist.The 20-year-old Dubois won it with his 14th goal of the season.“We found a way http://www.officialislanders.com/authent...ech-jersey ,” Tortorella said.Backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo finished with 19 saves for Columbus.The teams played a generally haphazard and at times listless game after the three-day Christmas break. And once again, the victory margin was narrow. Sixteen of the last 18 games between the Rangers and Blue Jackets have been decided by one or two goals.“I thought both teams didn’t have a whole lot of juice,” said Tortorella, the former Rangers coach. “We have to try to keep getting better each day.”Columbus struck first when Oliver Bjorkstrand scored at 9:17 of the first. Bjorkstrand took a pass from Boone Jenner and beat Lundqvist with a shot from the faceoff circle to the goaltender’s right. Cam Atkinson also had an assist.Jimmy Vesey tied it for the Rangers at 13:59 with his 10th of the season. Vesey took a pass from Kevin Hayes on a 2-on-1 break before tapping the puck past Korpisalo. With the assist, Hayes extended his point streak to eight games. Vladislav Namestnikov also assisted.Columbus went ahead 2-1 when David Savard’s long-range shot from the right circle beat Lundqvist at 16:08. The goal was the second for the Blue Jackets’ defenseman. Bjorkstrand and defenseman Scott Harrington assisted.The Rangers tied it with a power-play goal by Kreider at 1:45 of the second. Kreider deflected a soft shot from the point by Mats Zuccarello. Hayes also added another assist. The 26-year-old forward leads the Rangers with 31 points.Hayes has five goals and 10 assists during his eight-game scoring streak and also has nine points in his last nine games against Columbus.“When you lose, no one is happy,” Hayes said. “You want to get two points every night.”The Rangers were coming off a 3-2 home shootout loss to Philadelphia on Sunday. Starting with a Dec. 2 shootout loss to Winnipeg, their home woes have escalated and also included overtime losses to Arizona and Vegas.The Rangers have points in seven straight home games but only two of them wins, going 2-0-5 during that stretch. New York is 3-6-5 overall since Nov. 23.And with a 4-10-2 road record, they are facing seven of their next nine games away from home — where they haven’t won in regulation yet this season.“We certainly can’t let this get in the way of us moving on,” coach David Quinn said. “The bottom line is we had chances to do things right. That’s the only thing we can control. We didn’t execute what we were supposed to do.”Korpisalo made his first start since Dec. 11, when he lost 3-2 to Vancouver. Columbus had been 5-0-1 since behind starter Sergei Bobrovsky.“We were a little inconsistent. It was one of those games where it was lucky for us to get the last goal,” Bjorkstrand said. “These are huge points. They will mean a lot at the end of the season.”NOTES: Korpisalo also played in the previous game between the Rangers and Blue Jackets when New York won 5-4 in a shootout at Columbus on Nov. 10. … The Rangers and Blue Jackets meet again Jan. 13 in Columbus and April 5 at Madison Square Garden. … The Rangers scratched defenseman Tony DeAngelo and injured forward Jesper Fast. … New York again played without defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, sidelined with a shoulder injury sustained Dec. 10 against Tampa Bay. … Columbus scratched defenseman Dean Kukan and forward Lukas Sedlak.UP NEXTBlue Jackets: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.Rangers: Visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
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