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.”

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 haven’t played the Blue Jackets and their additions at the trade deadline.

Before losing the regular-season finale and failing to win the Atlantic Division, the Bruins looked like they had the potential to be the team to beat 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, and play to our strengths and make sure that other teams are changing the way that they want to play against us.”

That’s half the fun of the playoffs, where matchups matter more than points earned during the regular season.

“There’s no sitting saying, ‘Who’s the best matchup?’ ” Lightning Coach Jon Cooper said. “You need health. You need luck. You need so many things to go your way to win in the playoffs.”

Goaltending doesn’t hurt, either.

If Tampa Bay gets the kind of Vezina Trophy-caliber play out of Andrei Vasilevskiy that he delivered for much of the season, it could go on a deep run, though the same could be said for Pittsburgh with Matt Murray, Washington with Braden Holtby or Philipp Grubauer, Columbus with Sergei Bobrovsky or Toronto with Frederik Andersen.

RANGERS: After firing Coach Alain Vigneault, the team also dismissed two of his top assistants.

General Manager Jeff Gorton said associate coach Scott Arniel and Darryl Williams were let go Sunday. Gorton said Lindy Ruff is still on staff and he intends to speak with him before deciding on his future.

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