Thursday, March 31, 2011

Elimination-less on Wednesday Night, Big Thursday Coming

It was yet another night where the games that would eliminate teams did not work out the way they could have to eliminate a couple of teams last night. Both Buffalo and New Jersey won their games, keeping the Devils alive and the Blues decimated the Red Wings, keeping them alive for yet another day. The Hurricanes even laid a lickin' on the Canadiens, which kept the Lightning from clinching their playoff spot, so there was nothing new to really report for the playoff pool from Wednesday night.

The Lightning do get a chance to clinch by their own hands tonight, as they host the Penguins for a chance to clinch.  Tampa will need the 2 points out of the game, no matter if it's regulation, overtime or shootout win, 2 points will put them over the top on Thursday night.

In other clinching news, the San Jose Sharks can clinch their playoff spot, becoming the second West team to do so, with a regulation win over the Dallas Stars tonight, the team they need to leapfrog in the math department for clinching.  A regulation win will give the Sharks the tie-break over the Stars in shootout adjusted wins and the spot.

As for eliminations, the Thrashers can finally claim in their place in the ground with a loss (either regulation or overtime) to the Flyers tonight.  The regulation loss would set their maximum potential points down to 86 and the last playoff team in the East already has 87 points, while the overtime loss would knock their max potential to 87 and they would also lose on shootout adjusted wins in the first tie-breaker.  A win would keep them alive.

In the West, the Blue Jackets are on the bubble against the Capitals and it wouldn't take much to burst this bubble.  The Jackets do not have the tie-break in shootout adjusted wins, so a loss in overtime would do the trick.  A regulation loss would help as well, of course.

The Minnesota Wild are close to the bubble as well, as they'll host the Oilers, but they cannot be eliminated tonight, even with a regulation loss.  A regulation loss would still have them technically in, thanks to the adjusted wins tie-break, they could survive with winning outright and the Blackhawks losing the final six games of the season.  Hardly likely, but that is the case.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are much in the same boat as the Wild and they travel to Boston for a game against the Bruins.  Their death points is down to 4, but with the Rangers and Sabres both at 87 points going into tonight, they still have some hope that the Rangers will lose versus the Islanders and a win over the Bruins could give them a bit more hope.  A loss would still send their death points down to 2, which means another loss would sink them.

The Bruins could clinch the Northeast Division crown tonight with a win over the Leafs, as they will better the maximum amount of points the Canadiens can get this season.  The Northeast Division will guarantee the Bruins in 3rd place in the East and home ice in the first round, guaranteed.

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