Tag: playoff scenarios

Logan Couture, Slava Voynov

Blues, Sharks, and Kings battle for home ice on West’s final day


We took a look at what will start to shake loose in the Eastern Conference playoffs with today’s games already today, but we know for sure how the West will stack up after tonight. The battle for the final two spots will be figured out between Columbus, Detroit, and Minnesota but there is still one spot left for home ice advantage to be decided.

Here’s how the Western Conference sets up going into tonight’s games:

No. 1 – Chicago: They’re the top seed Central Division champs and Presidents’ Trophy winners. They’ll face either Columbus, Detroit, or Minnesota in the first round.

No. 2 – Anaheim: The Ducks won the Pacific Division and locked down the second seed in the West. They too can face any of Columbus, Detroit, or Minnesota in the opening round.

No. 3 – Vancouver: The Canucks won the Northwest Division and have the third seed locked down. They’ll get to face either Los Angeles, St. Louis, or San Jose in the first round.

St. Louis: The Blues can lock down the No. 4 seed with a victory of any kind over Chicago tonight. The Blackhawks should be resting plenty of guys so they may have an easy go of it. If they lose and San Jose beats L.A. in overtime or a shootout, the Blues could land in sixth. If the Kings win and the Blues lose, those two will meet up in the first round starting in California.

Los Angeles and San Jose: These two face each other tonight with the winner potentially getting home ice in the first round or a date on the road against the Blues should St. Louis win. San Jose can move up to fourth with a win and Blues loss.

The only way the Sharks can host the Kings in the first round is to beat L.A. in overtime or a shootout and have the Blues lose in regulation to Chicago. No matter how things shake out with St. Louis, if the Kings win they’re getting the Blues.

We already glossed over what can happen with the seventh and eighth seeds today. You’d have to think Chicago and Anaheim are hoping to see the Dallas Stars step up and help find a way to get Detroit out of the playoffs for the first time since 1990.

Eastern Conference playoff seedings to be decided

New York Rangers v New York Islanders

We took a quick look at what’s left to be decided in the Western Conference, but things in the East aren’t quite settled either. Yes, the eight teams who will vie for the Stanley Cup are set but who faces who is up in the air.

Buckle up gang, here’s your look at what can still happen regarding seeding in the Eastern Conference playoffs:

Pittsburgh: They’re the Atlantic Division champs and No. 1 seed no matter what. They’ll face either the Islanders, Rangers, or Ottawa in the first round.

Boston: The Bruins have two games left to play (@WSH, vs. OTT) and can clinch the Northeast Division and No. 2 seed by getting three points. A Montreal loss tonight and Boston earning one point in their final two games will also do the trick. Winning the division means facing the Isles, Rangers, or Sens in the first round. Losing it means facing either Toronto or Ottawa in the 4-5 matchup.

Washington: They’re the Southeast Division champions and locked into the three seed. They could face any one of Toronto, Ottawa, Islanders, or Rangers in the first round.

Montreal: The Habs can still win the Northeast Division. A win over Toronto in regulation and Boston earning no more than two points in their final two games does the trick. If they stay in the fourth seed, however, a date with Toronto in the first round is likely. They could also face Ottawa if the Sens win their final two games.

Toronto: A win over Montreal locks them in as the fifth seed and earns them a likely date with the Habs in the first round provided Boston gets at least one point in their final two games. A Toronto loss and Ottawa winning their final two games would bump the Leafs to the six seed and a date with the Capitals in the first round.

NY Islanders: The Isles have no more games to play and are locked in with 55 points. They can finish in sixth, seventh, or eighth yet.  If Ottawa loses out in regulation and the Rangers lose vs. New Jersey, the Isles will finish in sixth and face Washington. A Rangers win of any kind today bumps them down to seventh at least and Ottawa earning two points at all in their final two games on top of that would slide them to eighth.

Ottawa: The Sens have two games left (vs. PHI, @BOS) and can finish anywhere between fifth and eighth. If they win both games and Toronto loses to Montreal, they finish fifth and face Montreal or Boston. Earning two points slots them ahead of the Isles at the least and if the Rangers lose to New Jersey it would guarantee them sixth. Getting three out of four points would also guarantee them sixth. Losing their final two games in regulation would put them in eighth and earn a contentious date with the Penguins. Fire up the drama for that one.

NY Rangers: The best they can do is finish sixth and face Washington if they beat New Jersey today and Ottawa earns two points or fewer. A loss to the Devils in regulation and Ottawa earning a point of any kind in their final two games would seal their fate in eighth. They can land in seventh by finishing tied with Ottawa at their current 54 point standing as the Rangers have one more ROW than the Sens.

Western Conference playoffs will be settled tonight — Here’s what can happen

Sergei Bobrovsky, Henrik Zetterberg

The final two playoff spots in the Western Conference will be decided one way or another tonight. Columbus, Detroit, and Minnesota are vying to book a spot in the postseason and dates with either Anaheim or Chicago.

All three teams play tonight and that means we’ve got scenarios for how each can make the playoffs. If you’re a Columbus fan hoping to see them make the playoffs, you’re going to need a little help. Here’s how things play out:

Detroit: The Red Wings can clinch their 22nd straight playoff appearance by earning a single point tonight against Dallas. The Wings have 54 points and it’s going to take at least one point to clinch a spot for them. If they beat Dallas in any way they’ll lock down the seventh seed and draw Anaheim in the playoffs.

Minnesota: The Wild could’ve made tonight a walk in the park if they’d beaten Edmonton last night. Instead, they got their heads beat in 6-1 and now have to do it all again versus Colorado tonight. Minnesota locks down a playoff spot with a victory of any kind over the Avs. A win and a Detroit loss in regulation puts the Wild in seventh. A regulation loss makes them root hard for Nashville to win in regulation over Columbus.

Columbus: The Jackets are going to be rooting hard for the Stars and Avalanche tonight no matter what. Columbus needs points one way or another over the Predators tonight. A single point and a Wild loss in regulation puts them in. Two points and a Wild loss books their ticket for the postseason. A win and regulation losses by both Minnesota and Detroit puts Columbus in seventh place. A loss in regulation ends their season.

If all three teams end the night with 55 points, Detroit and Minnesota go to the playoffs based on having more ROWs than Columbus. Regardless, all eyes are on the West tonight.

Ovechkin and Brouwer conjure late magic for Capitals

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals

After losing six of seven games and just generally looking like the polar opposite of the team that once captivated the NHL, the Washington Capitals are showing that they might still have some magic left after winning three in a row.

Tonight’s win was by far the most magical.

The New York Islanders have been a scrappier team than most probably realize, but the bottom line is that the Caps need to win games like these. Matt Moulson made it 2-0 a few minutes into the the third period, but Washington showed that it might not go away easily after all.

Troy Brouwer scored two late goals (including one with just 26 seconds left) to tie it up and then Alex Ovechkin scored a highlight reel overtime-winner to give the Caps the 3-2 OT win – and the East’s eighth spot in the process.

Updating the Southeast and lower East

The Florida Panthers dismantled the Toronto Maple Leafs, so Washington was unable to make up ground for the Southeast Division title. The Panthers maintained their three-point lead and hold a game in hand, so they’re in control at the moment.

If you’re weird like me and wonder if the Caps might actually benefit from full-fledged underdog status, then this situation is looking promising, though. Washington isn’t just in eighth place, they hold a one-point lead (and two games in hand) over division rivals Winnipeg and must feel great seeing the Maple Leafs sink into the remarkable logjam right outside the East’s playoffs:

8. Washington: 69 points (19 games remaining)

9. Winnipeg: 68 points (17 GR)
10. Toronto: 65 points (19 GR)
11. Tampa Bay: 64 points (19 GR)

12. Buffalo: 62 points (20 GR)
13. Carolina: 61 points (19 GR)
14. NY Islanders: 61 points (19 GR)

15. Montreal: 58 points (18 GR)

(Note: I broke the teams into groups based on my subjective views of their playoff chances. Feel free to disagree.)


I don’t know about you, but the Capitals look like they have a great chance to lock up that final East playoff spot. For all their flaws and negative news clippings, they’d make an awfully interesting first round foil to the New York Rangers for two reasons:

1. The Capitals were the first seed and the Rangers were the eighth seed in the 2011 playoffs.

2. Ovechkin’s Capitals have booted Henrik Lundqvist’s team out of the playoffs in both meetings.

Yup, that sounds juicy to me – but obviously we’re a long way from that actually happening – especially if the Caps just go and win the Southeast.

Game of the Week preview: Blackhawks could finish anywhere from fifth to ninth place

Marian Hossa

Considering the fact that the final regular season NBC Game of the Week (at 12:30 pm ET) also comes on the final day of the 2010-11 campaign, there was a serious risk that this could have been a meaningless game. Instead, the Chicago Blackhawks host the Detroit Red Wings in a contest that could rearrange the lower half of the Western Conference’s playoff tree.

To put it in the simplest terms, the Blackhawks could finish as high as fifth place in the West with a regulation or overtime win against Detroit. That’s a pretty high ceiling for a team fighting for their playoff lives, but there’s also the very low floor. If Chicago loses in regulation and the Dallas Stars earn a regulation or overtime win, the Blackhawks won’t even make the playoffs.

There are, however, some in-betweens among those two extremes. The most important thing to remember is that a single point will clinch them a playoff spot (and the seventh seed), but if you want the full rundown of the scenarios, check the bottom of this post.

Beyond the minute details of how/where they can end up in the playoffs, the most important question is: how are they approaching this game? CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers caught up with coach Joel Quenneville and the team, who realize that weeks of discussing must-win games boil down to a contest that really is the biggest of their turbulent 2010-11 season.

“Everything’s at stake for tomorrow’s game,” Joel Quenneville said after Saturday’s practice. “I don’t know how many times we’ve said that statement all year, but tomorrow it really is.”

If the Blackhawks want to get that one point – or two, which would actually be more to their liking – they’re going to have to bring the same dominant game they had in their 4-2 victory in Detroit on Friday night. The Blackhawks were stellar; as Brian Campbell said, they recognized the situation at hand.

Rinse and repeat.

“It’s the biggest game. (Friday) was the biggest before that, and the one before that. It’s been that way for a while,” Campbell said. “We’re still in the same situation. It’s probably going to be a playoff atmosphere so we’ll be ready to go.”

The defending Stanley Cup champions must wait until the absolute last day of the season to find out if they’ll even make the playoffs again. While their focus must have been centered on their own conference foes more than anything else on Saturday, there’s a good chance that the Blackhawks are also aware of the sorry fate of another former championship team: the Carolina Hurricanes.

Much like the Hurricanes, Chicago’s fate is in their own hands. Will they win that staring contest, or will they blink, allowing another team to decide their future? We’ll find out in the NBC Game of the Week.

Chicago’s possibilities beyond a regulation/overtime win or the worst case scenario:

A single point would earn the Blackhawks the seventh seed since the 98-point Los Angeles Kings don’t have as many non-shootout wins as Chicago.

There’s also a nail-biting scenario in which Chicago could stay in eighth place. They would “accomplish” this task by losing in regulation to Detroit while the Stars fail to win in regulation or overtime.

The final situation involves a shootout win for the Blackhawks. Chicago would end the season with the same amount of non-shootout wins as Phoenix and Nashville, but they hold tiebreaker advantages over both teams.* Ultimately, then, a shootout win would be just as valuable as a regulation or overtime win. The Blackhawks would earn the fifth seed in that situation.

(How did I get at that last point? Let’s just say it’s a complicated scenario, but Buddy Oakes at Preds On the Glass came up with the same conclusions.)


So, in the grand scheme of things, the Blackhawks can earn the fifth spot with a win and a playoff spot with an overtime or shootout loss. If they fail to earn a point, they are at the mercy of the Stars.

If you’re hoping for a playoff atmosphere in the last day of the season, look no further than Sunday’s game between the Red Wings and the Blackhawks.