The NHL regular season is over, and with game 82 of 82 having been played, three of our local teams are readying themselves for the playoffs, one is heading home disappointed, and another has finally - and ever so mercilessly - been released from a season of misery.  @JoeBianchino

New York Rangers: The Rangers lead the class of local teams preparing for the playoffs, as they head into the chase for Lord Stanley's Cup the Eastern Conference's number one seed - an honor they'd sewn up earlier this week.  Their run to the Presidents' Trophy ended in disappointment, however, as two phoned-in losses have them stumbling - a bit - into the playoffs.  They've drawn the Senators, a team whom they have a losing record to on the season, but the Rangers will, and should, be favored to take the series - Their collection of young talent, defense, goal scorers, depth, toughness, and goaltending dominated the Eastern Conference for a reason.  The Rangers are unquestionably a team to watch.

Boston Bruins: The Bruins finished ten points north of their closest division rival, securing the Northeast and their conference's second seed.  It's been an up and down second half for the Bruins, who went under .500 in February and March.  Despite the struggle, however, the defending champions find themselves primed for a run at the cup.  They'll take on the even more enigmatic Washington Capitals in the playoffs' first round.

New Jersey Devils: The Devils happily color themselves the final of the local NHLers to have earned a playoff spot this season.  Unsteady to the All-Star Break, the Devils found their stroke in the season's second half, winning nine of their first eleven contests out of the break.  Though their momentum has slowed some, including three losses in their last five, the Devils crested 100 points this season and remain a dangerous squad, especially having drawn a weak three seed in the Florida Panthers, a team that sits eight points below them in the standings.

Buffalo Sabres: A team that entered the season under the heavy weight of expectation crumbled beneath it this season.  A combination of poor play and injury left the Sabres on the outside looking in for much of the season.  On the back of a late charge, however, they managed to pull into the playoff picture, but again the expectation proved too much.  Six losses in their last eleven games sunk any playoff ambition, their early hole proving too large.

New York Islanders: What can I say about the New York Islanders that hasn't already been said about the career of Hayden Christensen?  No one was expecting much, but still we all ended up disappointed.  A final day, 7-3 defeat at the hands of the NHL's worst team - the Columbus Blue Jackets - pretty much secured the filth bow atop the crap mess that was the 2011-2012 New York Islanders.  Young talent never materialized and they finished just 14th out of 15 in the conference.  Once again the squad from Long Island find themselves staring into the prospect of a long offseason and a forthcoming campaign largely devoid of hope.