With the season winding down and the playoff picture sorting itself out, we’ll be taking a look at the night’s games and how they’ll potentially affect the playoff races. This is ProHockeyTalk’s “Race for the Playoffs.”
x-1. Washington – 103 pts (3 GR)
x-2. Philadelphia – 102 pts (4 GR)
y-3. Boston – 99 pts (4 GR)
x-4. Pittsburgh – 100 pts (3 GR)
x-5. Tampa Bay – 97 pts (4 GR)
6. Montreal – 91 pts (3 GR)
7. Buffalo – 88 pts (4 GR)
8. NY Rangers – 87 pts (4 GR)
9. Carolina – 86 pts (4 GR)
10. Toronto – 84 pts (3 GR)
x – clinched playoff spot
y – clinched division title
GR – games remaining
NY Rangers @ Philadelphia – 12:30 pm ET
We have you covered for the NBC Game of the Week. Highlighted articles include:
Ultimately, this game could go a long way in accomplishing those tasks for the Flyers and Rangers, respectively.
Buffalo @ Carolina – 5:00 pm ET
This game could have enormous implications on the outlook of the Eastern Conference playoff bubble. If the Hurricanes manage to win this game in regulation, they would tie the Sabres in points and non-shootout wins with the same games remaining. Conversely, Buffalo could open up a nice cushion between themselves and the Canes if they won this game, even if it wouldn’t guarantee that Carolina would disappear from their rear view mirrors.
Of course, both teams might be keeping an eye on the NBC Game of the Week, because the Rangers will provide both sides with added incentive whether they win or lose.
Tampa Bay @ Chicago – 7:00 pm ET
This game is bigger for the Blackhawks than it is the Lightning, but that doesn’t mean that Tampa Bay lacks a reason to suit up. The Bolts can draw to within one point of the fourth seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. This marks their one game in hand over Pittsburgh, so they would get three games to make up a one-point difference if they managed to beat Chicago.
Western Conference playoff race
p – 1. Vancouver – 113 pts (4 GR)
x- 2. San Jose – 99 pts (5 GR)
3. Detroit – 98 pts (5 GR)
4. Phoenix – 95 pts (4 GR)
5. Los Angeles – 94 pts (5 GR)
6. Nashville – 94 pts (4 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (5 GR)
8. Chicago – 90 pts (6 GR)
9. Dallas – 87 pts (6 GR)
10. Calgary – 87 pts (4 GR)
p – clinched conference title and Presidents’ Trophy
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – Games Remaining
Chicago @ Columbus – 7:00 pm ET
The Dallas Stars lost in a humiliating fashion night, so the Blackhawks have a decent three-point cushion and some tiebreaker advantages that might make it more like a four-point lead. That being said, the Stars have a much easier closing schedule overall, so Chicago needs to soak up easy points while they can get them. In other words, there’s no excuse for them to lose to the fading Blue Jackets tonight.
Calgary @ St. Louis – 8:00 pm ET
Chicago’s biggest concern is the Stars, but the Flames still have an outside chance of stealing the eighth spot in the West too. They trail the Hawks by three points and only have four games remaining, so their odds aren’t great.
Still, beating up on teams like the Blues could keep them relevant. Calgary’s coming off a frustrating loss to the Anaheim Ducks while St. Louis absolutely destroyed Detroit 10-3 on Wednesday.
With tiebreaker disadvantages to both the Stars and Blackhawks, the Flames need to win all of their remaining contests and hope for the best.
Colorado @ Phoenix – 10 pm ET
The Coyotes aren’t in a great spot from a games remaining standpoint, so they need to win every game they can and hope for the best regarding seeding. Taking advantage of an opportunity to earn (what would seem like) easy points against the Avalanche would be essential if the Yotes want a decent draw in this year’s playoffs.
All times Eastern
Pittsburgh @ Detroit
Had both teams been at full strength, this would be a remarkable star-studded affair in the Motor City. Instead, you already know Pittsburgh is going to be without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin but the Red Wings are going to be without Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler with separate ailments. That’s a lot of scoring punch missing from both teams and while we’ll potentially get a goalie showdown between Marc-Andre Fleury and Jimmy Howard, having a game between these two teams with that much firepower missing is a huge bummer. On the bright side, we’ll still have Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg for Detroit along with Kris Letang and Jordan Staal for the Penguins so we’re not totally devoid of excitement here.
Still, the fire between these two teams still burns deep so what the game might lack in star power it will be made up with aggression, especially with the Peguins coming off a demoralizing defeat at the hands of the Rangers yesterday. One guy you likely won’t be seeing is Matt Cooke as he’s likely facing a suspension after his dirty hit against Ryan McDonagh.
Calgary @ Los Angeles
Speaking of demoralizing defeats, the Flames and Kings are both coming off of tough overtime losses to the Ducks as both teams saw Corey Perry beat them in the extra period. Luckily for them there’s no sign of Corey Perry coming after them in this game but for Calgary they’re in real need of a win. The Flames have looked gassed of late and this swing through California could be the road trip that ends up keeping them from making the postseason. The Kings will need to pick up a win to help fend off the Blackhawks and help themselves catch up to the Coyotes in the Western Conference playoff race. A win would move the Kings to within a point of Phoenix for the fourth seed while another loss allows the rest of the pack chasing in the west to catch up.