Tag: mathematical elimination

Stephane Robidas, Mike Fisher

West playoff picture complete: Sharks, Kings and Coyotes are in


With the Pacific Division title still up for grabs, it’s unfair to say that the Nashville Predators’ 2-0 win against the Dallas Stars killed the drama of matches like the Los Angeles Kings-San Jose Sharks home-and-home series. Still, the Predators’ pursuit of home ice advantage* sure made things a lot less interesting.

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Update: the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to revel in their role as spoilers; they eliminated the Colorado Avalanche with a 5-2 win.

What it clinched:

Playoff spots for the Phoenix Coyotes, Kings and Sharks.

Who’s eliminated:

The Stars would max out at 91 points, so the Predators hammered the final nail in their season. The Avalanche can only get 90, so they’re done too – and against a team that’s far less dangerous (although almost as dangerous lately).

Why there’s still some drama:

Again, the good news is that Pacific – and thus, the third seed – is still up for grabs. (Also, the seventh seed serves as a solid consolation prize.)

Sure, it’s not as thrilling as just about everyone fighting tooth-and-nail for a playoff spot, but notching the No. 3 spot can be a huge advantage – especially if the Vancouver Canucks and/or St. Louis Blues stumble in early playoff rounds. Still, it’s stunning to realize that the Stars could have been right there too if they took care of their late-season business.

* Nashville’s win and Detroit’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils means that the Predators only need a point to clinch the fourth seed and the huge (especially in negative way for the Red Wings) home ice advantage in their likely upcoming series. Of course, there’s also a chance the Chicago Blackhawks could slide into the fifth seed; check out this breakdown from On the Forecheck for all the headache-inducing details.

PHT Morning Skate: Flames extinguished

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Interesting fact from NHL.com’s Brian Compton: Ray Whitney’s first point came on April 15, 1992. I wonder if he expected to cross the 1,000 (and 1,001) point barrier almost 20 years later? (Brian Compton)

Brent Sutter on the mood for the Calgary Flames, who were mathematically eliminated last night: “It’s worse than being disappointed.” (The Canadian Press)

The St. Louis Blues also lost on Saturday – to the Columbus Blue Jackets, no less – but they still clinched the Central Division. Still, losing to the Blue Jackets is a sign that St. Louis isn’t the kind of team that can rest on its laurels. (The Associated Press)

In the final clinch/elimination update left from the West (read about the New Jersey Devils covering their own bases in the East here), the Chicago Blackhawks clinched a spot for the fourth season in a row. (NHL.com)

Nick Kypreos floats rumors about Ryan Suter eye-balling the Minnesota Wild and reports that if Jeff Carter is going to help the Los Angeles Kings again before next season, it will have to be in the playoffs. (Kukla’s Korner)

The San Jose Sharks earned a big 3-0 win against the Dallas Stars on Saturday as the first half of a home-and-home set. Read up on the Sharks’ side from CSNBayArea.com and the Stars’ perspective from Defending Big D.

For more on the Devils’ clinching a playoff spot, Compton gives the six reasons why it happened. (NHL.com)

Now that the Boston Bruins are guaranteed an opportunity to defend their title and just about have the Northeast Division title wrapped up, Joe Haggerty reports that the focus shifts to NFL bye week-type stuff: managing minutes and nursing injuries. (CSNNE.com)

Eric Stephens reports that George Parros faces an “uncertain future.” Hopefully that future includes a bodacious mustache, though. (Ducks blog)

Oh yeah, the Winnipeg Jets were officially booted from the playoffs, too. Kinda forgot about them, right? (CSNPhilly.com)

East update: An ideal night for idle teams

Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins

There weren’t a ton of playoff-relevant games for the Eastern Conference tonight, yet it seemed like the big ones had some awfully interesting ripple effects. The number one theme was that it was a good night for idle teams, but here’s a roundup of what happened.

Idle Bruins clinch

The second seed isn’t a guarantee yet for the Boston Bruins, but another playoff berth is. They didn’t play on Friday but the Pittsburgh Penguins made it official when they beat the Buffalo Sabres in a 5-3 game that had a playoff atmosphere, according to Dan Bylsma via Mike Harrington.

Perhaps an even better night for the Capitals

The good news for Boston and the Washington Capitals more-or-less intertwined tonight, which is amusing (and telling of the stretch run’s whims) since they were going toe-to-toe on Thursday. Obviously, that Sabres loss is the biggest deal for the Capitals since it places Washington in eighth and Buffalo in ninth place for tiebreaker reasons – each team now has four games left – but it’s also big for the purpose of higher aims.

Considering the Florida Panthers’ surprising recent struggles, a Southeast Division title bid isn’t totally out of the question for the Capitals. The gap is now four points and Washington actually holds tiebreakers there, too – plus they’ll host what could be a huge game between the two teams on April 5.*

So yeah, tonight’s biggest winners didn’t even play. Let’s move on to the active ones that are left, though.

Time is running out for Penguins

There are plenty of good things for Pittsburgh to take from Friday. They beat the Sabres 5-3. Sidney Crosby became the seventh-youngest player to reach the 600-point plateau while Pascal Dupuis extended the NHL’s best points streak of the season to 13 games. (Click here for that story.)

Still, it’s looking likely that they’ll need to carry all their positivity into a challenging first round series against the formidable Philadelphia Flyers. The New York Rangers maintained their Atlantic Division/Eastern Conference lead at five points thanks to a demonstrative 4-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens.

An April 5 meeting could shave that difference down to three points if Pittsburgh wins in regulation, but the Rangers hold the tiebreaker advantage and each squad only has three games remaining aside from that. It’s rarely safe to assume anything in this crazy stretch run, but the Blueshirts’ odds of winning the East’s top seed are extremely high.

In fact, their biggest competition might be for the Presidents’ Trophy. They took a one-point lead over the idle St. Louis Blues for that award today, so it wasn’t a great night for idle teams in every way.

(Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Carolina Hurricanes are officially eliminated from playoff contention. If only they had more time …)

* – To extend the good for Washington and Boston talk, a weaker Southeast naturally makes it that much more likely for the Bruins to grab the second seed.

Leafs officially eliminated from playoffs, but Burke might keep his job

Brian Burke

With a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the seemingly inevitable became official: the Toronto Maple Leafs have been eliminated from the playoffs.

Now the obvious question for the free-falling Leafs is: what’s next? If you believe Dave Shoalts’ unnamed sources, embattled (and profoundly entertaining) GM Brian Burke will be there to shape the team in 2012-13.

Efficient may not be a popular word right now when it comes to the Maple Leafs and their general manager, Brian Burke, but the board has no plans to fire him.

The MLSE insider, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, also does not expect this to change when BCE Inc., and Rogers Communications Inc., officially become the owners of 75 per cent of MLSE some time this summer. He can’t say that for sure, of course, but he also said he has no reason to think either communications giant will demand Burke’s head before his contract expires at the end of the 2013-14 NHL season.

Shoalts goes on to detail some of the wins and losses of Burke’s tenure, although I must play the devil’s advocate on the Phil Kessel deal to some extent. Yes, Dougie Hamilton could be a good-to-great NHL defenseman and Tyler Seguin is beginning to show his promise with 61 points this season, but Kessel was absolutely outstanding for most of this season. (Yes, Kessel might have his flaws, yet it might be time to downgrade that trade from the “awful” category.)

There is one “benefit” from the Maple Leafs plummeting ways (whether Burke is there to take advantage or not): Toronto is tanking its way to a possible lottery pick. NHL Network provided this helpful look at the lottery situation, which I’ll share in text form:

Tank watch

Anaheim: 6 games left, 75 points
Islanders: 6 games left, 75 points

Lottery Teams as of this writing
Toronto: 5, 75 (8.1 percent chance for the top pick)
Minnesota: 6, 72 (10.7 percent)
Montreal: 6, 72 (14.2 percent)
Edmonton: 6, 71 (18.8 percent)
Columbus: 6, 55 (48.2 percent )

(Boy, the Islanders must feel great about smiting the Pittsburgh Penguins, right?)

The Maple Leafs haven’t made the playoffs in the post-lockout era, so “wait til next year” is the sort of phrase that likely sends Toronto fans to the nearest pub, but the team should be able to add a nice prospect to try to turn things around.

It just remains to be seen if Burke will get another year or two to try to steer that ship.

Fall from grace complete: Minnesota mathematically eliminated from playoff contention

Matt Hackett, Alex Ovechkin

This season will end the way each of the three previous to it have for the Minnesota Wild: Out of the playoffs.

The Wild’s loss to Washington yesterday mathematically eliminated the Wild from playoff contention and according to Michael Russo of The Star Tribune, things could possibly get worse for the team standings-wise.

That seems like an eternity ago, as does that Dec. 13 game at Winnipeg when the Wild was still first in the league. Now? It is 25th – but one point up on 29th, which would give the Wild the second-best possibility of winning the April 10 draft lottery and the right to pick No. 1 in the June draft. 

The Wild’s fall from grace is one of the more incredible feats we’ve seen this season and it’s impressive for all the wrong reasons.

Hockey Wilderness pointed out after yesterday’s game that Minnesota will be the first team to miss the playoffs after being in first place in December. The Wild were in first place as late as December 17 but since then they’ve gone a paltry 11-26-5. Minnesota won’t be alone in their fall-from-grace shame, however, as the Maple Leafs are on the brink of elimination themselves. Misery does love company after all.