It seems like playoff scenarios are changing on a day-to-day basis this week since there’s such little separation between certain teams. Every point seems precious. (Or, useless, if you’re the home-ice clinching Washington Capitals or a member of the growing legion of teams waiting to go on vacation.)
We’ll try to keep you up-to-date with each situation, but today Kukla’s Korner already did a superb job of summarizing what can happen with Thursday’s slate of games. Here’s how they broke down the possibilities (which I must say, kind of reminds me of the last few weeks of NFL playoff battles).
EASTERN CONFERENCE #2 New Jersey Devils would clinch the Atlantic Division… * if they defeat the Florida Panthers AND the Pittsburgh Penguins lose in regulation to the New York Islanders #4 Pittsburgh Penguins would clinch home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs… * if they get at least one point against New York Islanders OR * if the Ottawa Senators lose (in regulation or overtime/shootout) to Tampa Bay #6 Montreal Canadiens would clinch a playoff berth… * if they get at least one point against the Carolina Hurricanes
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.