Sunday Thread: Islanders recall black aces; playoff opponent determined tonight

Who will it be? - Alex Trautwig

The NHL season ends tonight with the Senators in Boston, with the outcome determining who the Islanders will face in the first round of the playoffs.

The New York Islanders are getting ready for the playoffs, but they don't yet know which opponent they're preparing for (more on that below). They did announce the recall of "black ace" additions from Bridgeport, whose AHL season is over: Brock Nelson, John Persson, Ryan Strome, Johan Sundstrom, Matt Donovan, Calvin de Haan, Aaron Ness and Anders Nilsson were all recalled. They probably won't see any playing time, but if injury carnage strikes they will be eligible.

Nino Niederreiter is expected to head to the World Championships to play for Switzerland.

Anyway, it's the final day of the 2013 NHL regular season, a one-off day due to the Boston Marathon tragedy postponing what has become tonight's Bruins Senators game. In part due to the short season and tight standings, and in part due to the the NHL's whacky shootout regime, three of the four Eastern Conference playoff series draws are still up in the air.

We know Pittsburgh is the #1 seed, we know Washington is the #3 seed as the Southeast Division winner, and we know the Rangers are locked into #6. But Montreal or Boston can still have #2 and Ottawa can draw either of them or Pittsburgh depending on tonight's game.

Aside: Wow, can you believe the Senators had a chance to improve their seed last night but instead lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in regulation? Jeez. What kind of team does that? Hockey is so annoying when there are two teams trying to win like that. Someone should probably be fired...

Aside 2: Wait a second, someone was fired. But it's Joe Niuewendyk in Dallas.

Full scenarios are at NHL.com here, but from the Islanders' perspective it's down to either Pittsburgh or Boston. (There is no scenario where the Isles would face Montreal, because the scenario where Montreal grabs #2 is one where Ottawa leaps the Isles into #7.)

SCENARIOS

If Boston wins in regulation:

Series 'A' - #1 Pittsburgh vs. #8 Ottawa

Series 'B' - #2 Boston vs. #7 NY Islanders

Series 'C' - #3 Washington vs. #6 NY Rangers

Series 'D' - #4 Montreal vs. #5 Toronto

If Boston wins in overtime or shootout:

Series 'A' - #1 Pittsburgh vs. #8 NY Islanders

Series 'B' - #2 Boston vs. #7 Ottawa

Series 'C' - #3 Washington vs. #6 NY Rangers

Series 'D' - #4 Montreal vs. #5 Toronto

If Ottawa wins in any fashion:

Series 'A' - #1 Pittsburgh vs. #8 NY Islanders

Series 'B' - #2 Montreal vs. #7 Ottawa

Series 'C' - #3 Washington vs. #6 NY Rangers

Series 'D' - #4 Boston vs. #5 Toronto

Isles Practicing

The Islanders were practicing today, though Casey Cizikas and Frans Nielsen were taking "maintenance" days. Here are the lines, via Isles Twitter:

Moulson-Tavares-Boyes
Bailey-Reasoner-Okposo
Grabner-Aucoin-McDonald
Joensuu-Ullstrom-Martin
Extras: Boulton/Lee

Hamonic-MacDonald
Streit-Strait
Hickey-Visnovsky
Carkner/Finley-Martinek

Oh, and his media wrap Gary Bettman said he'd love for the Isles to move to Brooklyn early, if possible.

Enjoy the game if you're watching tonight. You could be watching the Isles' next opponent.

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