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Around the NHL: The Eastern Conference bracket is set, Nikita Kucherov picks up his 100th assist, and more!

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Photo credit:© Kim Klement Neitzel - USA Today
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
Thursday is the final day of the regular season!
In the same game, one player hit a historic mark, while another fell short. Moreover, the Eastern Conference playoffs are set, while Thursday’s games will determine the playoff matchups for the Western Conference.
Let’s dig into the latest edition of Around the NHL!

Nikita Kucherov hit 100 assists

A couple of days ago, Connor McDavid became just the fourth player in the history of the game to hit 100 assists (which was done for the 14th time). On Wednesday evening, Nikita Kucherov also picked up his 100th assist, becoming just the fifth player in history to hit the marker.
Of course, Wayne Gretzky did it an insane 11 times from 1980-81 to 1990-91, while Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr also did it. This is the second time two players have had 100 assists in the same season, with Lemieux’s 100 assist season coming in 1988-89, falling one point shy of 200 points.
As for Orr, the greatest defenceman who has ever lived, he did it all the way back in 1970-71, where he had 102 points and had 139 points.

Auston Matthews falls one goal shy of 70

Nikita Kucherov picked up his 100th assist on Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Auston Matthews fell short of his 70th goal of the season. It wasn’t for a lack of trying though, as Matthews shot 12 times on net.
It would’ve been just the 15th time a player hit 70 goals, and the first time it had been done since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny both hit 76 goals during the 1992-93 season.
Still, 69 goals is no joke, as the last time a player has scored that many was when Mario Lemieux did it in 1995-96 (while picking up 161 points). Matthews is a generational scorer, and we’re lucky to be watching him, even if he’s on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Eastern Conference playoffs are set

Tuesday’s slate of games saw the Eastern Conference standings set in stone. Let’s start with what happened in the Detroit Red Wings game.
For the second consecutive day, the Red Wings played the Montréal Canadiens, and for the second consecutive day, the Red Wings scored with an empty net. This time, they had just 3.3 seconds to spare, and eventually won in the shootout, bringing them to 91 points.
It was all for naught though, as the Washington Capitals needed a win to get in due to the tiebreaker. Unfortunately for the Wings, the Alexander Ovechkin-led Capitals were playing the Philadelphia Flyers, who needed the Capitals, Red Wings, and Pittsburgh Penguins to all lose in regulation.
With the game tied up at one (and Detroit already scoring to send it to overtime, thus eliminating them), the Flyers pulled their netminder, with the Capitals scoring shortly after.
Had the Flyers not done this, the Red Wings could have still made the playoffs if the Capitals lost in overtime. However, by doing this, the Flyers also eliminated their state rivals as the Penguins couldn’t get in with a win.
With that, the Eastern Conference has its game one schedule set, with the Carolina Hurricanes hosting the New York Islanders on Saturday, and the Boston Bruins doing the same for the Toronto Maple Leafs. On Sunday, the Florida Panthers host the Tampa Bay Lightning, before the New York Rangers host the Capitals later in the afternoon.
It’s an exciting time to be a hockey fan.

Setting up Thursday’s slate of games

The Western Conference bracket isn’t quite set in stone just yet. While we know that the Vancouver Canucks will play the Nashville Predators with home ice advantage, and the Winnipeg Jets will play the Colorado Avalanche with home ice advantage, the other two series have yet to be decided.
With that being said, we know that the Dallas Stars will have home ice advantage, as well as the Edmonton Oilers. The question is, what team will they face? Either the Vegas Golden Knights or the Los Angeles Kings could move into either spot, as the Golden Knights currently occupy the third spot in the Pacific Division, while the Kings occupy the final Wild Card spot.
The Kings host the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:30 p.m. MT, while the Golden Knights host the Anaheim Ducks at 8 p.m. MT. The team with the most points will play the Oilers, and if they finish with the same number of points, it will be the Kings playing the Oilers due to the tiebreaker of regulation wins.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Ryley_L_D
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