A lot has been published about the optimal opponents for each team come playoff time. I don't want to theorize too much on the topic this time around. Instead, I offer you some data for you to chew on by yourselves:
First up is the head-to-head table for all possible contenders from the Eastern Conference this season (please note, OT/SO goals for/against not counted).
As you can see, most top teams deserve to be there as they have accrued points against playoff-bound rivals.
What you might also spot is that there are some curious results: both plum match-ups (New Jersey getting Pittsburgh, say) and ones to avoid (New Jersey getting Philly).
From this, you can piece together how well each team did solely against playoff teams from the East.
Of note here seems to be that Buffalo are in above their heads, and it seems to be at Ottawa's expense.
Finally, and probably most important for those in imminently scheduled playoff pools like me is the record against teams that they could possibly face in the first round:
Pittsburgh, leaving the standings behind, must be licking their chops for their first round entrance.