Here's a look at the NHL's Eastern Conference playoff picture – Boston.com

Seeding means nothing in the giant game of rock, 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.”

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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

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