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NHL final day viewing guide: What's on the line on Saturday?

Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire

With the entire 16-team Stanley Cup playoff field already set, there's not too much team drama heading into the NHL's final regular-season day, although some seeds remain in the air.

But, with 15 games on the slate for Saturday -- including a whopping four streaming on ESPN+ -- there's still some intriguing storylines to follow. Here's what's on the line, and what we'll be watching:

Thanks to Vince Masi of ESPN Stats & Information.


Seeding shuffle

Only two of the eight playoff matchups are entirely set. The Boston Bruins will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in a matchup that's felt inevitable for months, while the San Jose Sharks will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights. After that, it's a total scramble.

The Tampa Bay Lightning's hunt for 62

Everyone knew Tampa Bay would be one of the best teams in the NHL this season. But they turned out to be one of the league's biggest overachievers, too. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened the season projecting the Lightning to have 107.5 points. They can finish as high as 20.5 points higher -- the highest differential in the league.

And though the Lightning can't set the NHL record with 63 wins, they have a chance to tie the 1995-96 Red Wings with 62. The standings points record of 132 (1976-77 Montreal Canadiens) is also out of reach, though Tampa Bay can get as high as No. 4 overall with a win today against the Bruins.

Please note, Lightning fans: One of those teams won the Stanley Cup, the other exited early.

Chasing milestones

Nikita Kucherov is at 126 points. If he notches just one more in the Lightning's final game against the Bruins, he'll match Jaromir Jagr (1998-99 Penguins) for the highest single-season point total in the past 20 seasons. Of course, at the pace Kucherov has been scoring, he totally has a chance to surpass the mulleted legend.

Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl needs one goal to join Alex Ovechkin as the NHL's only 50-goal scorers this season. (Toronto's John Tavares sits at 47 ahead of the Leafs' finale against Montreal). Draisaitl is only 23; the most recent players to reach the 50-goal plateau at age 23 or under? Steven Stamkos in 2011-12, Sidney Crosby in 2009-10, Alex Ovechkin (three times), and Ilya Kovalchuk in 2005-06. Before then, the previous player to do it was Paul Kariya in 1995-96.

Another note if Draisaitl reaches 50: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team has had two separate players where one scored 50 goals, another had 75 assists and the team missed the postseason. In fact, with Connor McDavid already having 75 assists for the Oilers, the last team to have a 75-assist player who failed to make the playoffs was ... the Oilers in 1995-96 (Doug Weight).

Five players have already reached the 100-point club, but Sidney Crosby (98), Johnny Gaudreau (98), Nathan MacKinnon (98) and Steven Stamkos (97) are knocking. That's potentially nine 100-point scorers; there were only five 100-point scorers over the previous three seasons combined. If Crosby gets 100, he'll join Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Joe Sakic as the only players in the past 30 years with six 100-point seasons.

A last hurrah?

Scott Gordon did an admirable job as the interim coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, but he could be sent back down to the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms after the season.

Willie Desjardins is almost certainly not coming back with the Los Angeles Kings after Saturday's finale.

We've said it before, but is this the final time we'll see the legendary Ken Hitchcock behind an NHL bench? (Whoever is named GM in Edmonton may choose to go in a different direction).

This could also be the final regular-season farewell for 35-year-old Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza and an NHL farewell to Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who just turned 40 and has battled several health issues.

It's been a difficult season for 15-year-veteran Chris Kunitz (nine points in 54 games), and he could mull retirement also. Jason Pominville (35), Niklas Kronwall (37) and Joe Thornton (38) are all on the final years of their deals; you'll get to see more of Thornton in the playoffs, though.

The Islanders look for home-ice advantage

It's been a wild season so far for the New York Islanders, who saw their captain, John Tavares, leave in free agency ... then exceed all expectations by improbably clinching a playoff berth, with much improved defensive structure and goaltending.

The story can be even sweeter with a win in Saturday's finale against the Washington Capitals. The Caps already clinched a Metropolitan Division title, but with a win the Islanders would capture home-ice advantage in the first round for the first time since 1998. That's a huge boon to this fan base, which has weathered a nomadic season. (The Islanders will play their first-round series at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island; should they advance, all subsequent rounds will be at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn).

The Isles will face either the Carolina Hurricanes or Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. If the Islanders get one point, they'll have their most in a season since 1983-84 (104), the season of their fifth straight Stanley Cup Final appearance.