Race for the playoffs: Three West teams could clinch, Blackhawks and Stars face tests


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.”

Western Conference

p-1. Vancouver – 113 pts (3 GR)
y-2. San Jose – 103 pts (3 GR)
y-3. Detroit – 102 pts (3 GR)
4. Phoenix – 96 pts (3 GR)
5. Los Angeles – 96 pts (3 GR)
6. Nashville – 95 pts (3 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (3 GR)
8. Chicago – 92 pts (4 GR)
9. Calgary – 91 pts (2 GR)
10. Dallas – 89 pts (4 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot

Chicago @ Montreal – 7:30 pm ET

This is a big one for the two Original Six teams, as the Canadiens can clinch a playoff berth against a Blackhawks team hoping to cling to the eighth seed in the West. Chicago must mop up as many points as they can between this game and tomorrow’s contest against the Blues, because they face an intimidating home-and-home with the Red Wings to close out the season. The Flames are reasonably close behind but only have two games left while the Stars are short points but face a relatively easy closing schedule.

In other words, this is a big one for the ‘Hawks.

Atlanta @ Nashville – 8:00 pm ET

The Predators are almost certain to make the playoffs anyway, but they can put any doubts to bed in one of two ways.

  • They can clinch with a win plus a Stars loss.
  • Or they can clinch by earning a point against the Thrashers while the Stars lose in regulation.

Speaking of the Stars and teams clinching playoff spots …

Columbus @ Dallas – 8:30 pm ET

The Stars are fighting for their playoff lives, but still have a chance of jumping over the Flames (they have four games remaining to Calgary’s two) and Blackhawks for the West’s final spot. It won’t be easy, but all four of their games are against teams outside of their conference’s playoff picture, so going four for four is possible (if unlikely).

The Blackhawks and Predators won’t be the only teams rooting against them, though. Here are two teams who could clinch playoff berths without lifting a finger today.

Phoenix Coyotes: The fourth-ranked Coyotes could guarantee themselves a spot with a Stars loss of any kind.

Los Angeles Kings: The fifth-ranked Kings will earn another playoff berth with a Stars regulation loss.

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