In the NHL, sometimes it feels like playoff races work like side-view mirrors in reverse: objects behind you may not be as close as they appear.
Technically, the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks might not be mathematically out of this, but considering the fact that everyone who needed to win more or less did so today – not just in the West, in the NHL overall – even a few points represent a mountain with such a small amount of time left.
Outside the bubble
The Stars won and the Sharks lost, but both teams are almost certainly out of the running.
In news higher up the food chain, the St. Louis Blues are in a great position to win the Central Division after Nashville only managed an OT point against Dallas:
Also, the Minnesota Wild lost, yet they managed to grab a point by getting to a shootout against Detroit. With 96 standings points, they’re in a pretty comfortable position for the first wild card spot.
If you’re more of a visual learner, here are the updated West standings via NHL.com:
Back to the bubble
As covered earlier, Winnipeg won a thriller against Vancouver. They slipped into a playoff spot in the early evening, yet now they find themselves back out into the bubble thanks to two other outcomes.
The Los Angeles Kings smothered the Colorado Avalanche to grab a 3-1 win. The Avalanche only managed 10 shots on goal.
It was close for some time, but the Calgary Flames shook off Karri Ramo’s injury and pulled away from the Edmonton Oilers with a 4-0 victory. Dennis Wideman set a new career-high for points in one season by reaching 52.
Finally, let’s look at the closing schedules for the Flames, Kings and Jets.
Flames (currently the third team in the Pacific Division): 93 points, three games remaining, 39 regulation/OT wins
Tuesday: vs. Arizona
Thursday: vs. Los Angeles
Saturday (April 11): at Winnipeg
Kings (currently in the second wild card spot): 92 points, four GR, 37 ROW
Monday: at Vancouver
Tuesday: at Edmonton
Thursday: at Calgary
Saturday (April 11): vs. San Jose
Jets (currently in the bubble): 92 points, four GR, 33 ROW
Monday: at Minnesota
Tuesday: at St. Louis
Thursday: at Colorado
Saturday (April 11): vs. Calgary
Interesting schedules, huh? The Flames have one fewer game remaining, yet they have one left against both Los Angeles and Winnipeg. For all we know, Calgary vs. Winnipeg and Los Angeles vs. its local rival San Jose could both stand as all-or-nothing games (or any number of other possibilities).
It all points to a thrilling finish … or a stressful one if you’re pulling for the Flames, Jets or Kings.