In the past, the NHL has not normally moved up the starting dates of each playoff round if a certain matchup was already set. (The NBA does this on a semi-regular basis when they have the chance.) But with the second round potentially ending this weekend with two 4-0 series sweeps and two 4-1 victories, that would leave the league dark for almost a week if they waited until the original start dates (May 14-15) for the conference finals.
So now, as SB Nation’s Travis Hughes says, the Tampa Bay Lightning could start their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Boston Bruins earlier than expected:
Vancouver can close out Nashville in Game 5 at Rogers Arena on Saturday night, while Detroit could see their season end in Game 5 at San Jose on Sunday night. If that happens, the Conference Finals between Tampa Bay and Boston could kick off on Tuesday night, with the Bruins hosting Game 1 at TD Garden.
The Stanley Cup Finals are not scheduled to begin until Memorial Day weekend, so there could be extra days of rest built into the conference finals schedule if those series begin earlier than planned. On the other hand, beginning the series sooner could affect the availability of the Lightning’s Pavel Kubina and Simon Gagne, and Boston’s Adam McQuaid and Patrice Bergeron, all of whom are currently injured. We’ll just have to wait and see.