With the playoffs just around the corner, we might see two more Eastern Conference playoff spots get officially claimed tonight.
After earning a 3-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, the idle New York Islanders will achieve a postseason berth if the Ottawa Senators fail to get a point against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight.
That Senators-Leafs game also has serious implications for the Washington Capitals. If Washington secures a point in its game against Detroit and Toronto wins in regulation, then the Capitals are guaranteed a playoff spot. If the Capitals beat Detroit, then they will advance even if Ottawa gets a consolation point in overtime or a shootout tonight.
Of course, it’s more than just a playoff berth in the balance at this stage of the season. There’s also a tight race for positioning in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers are locked into the top seed, but the Capitals, Penguins, and Islanders all have a legitimate shot at the second spot.
Meanwhile, a Senators loss would be a big break for the current Wild Card occupants – Pittsburgh and Boston – while an Ottawa victory would keep the pressure on those clubs.