Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday's Playoff Pool Implications

It's going to be a busy night in the NHL on Tuesday, as 11 games will go and a number of them have playoff ramifications associated with them. I have some extra time, so I thought I would have a look and see who can clinch and who can be knocked out.  Generally speaking, if the swing is 4 points either way, they should be considered to be clinching or eliminating worthy.

Only one team has the ability to clinch a playoff spot tonight and that honour belongs to the Tampa Bay Lightning, as they can clinch with a win (including shootout) over the Senators and a Hurricanes regulation loss to the Capitals tonight.  If only one of those situations happens tonight, Tampa will have to wait an extra game to get it done, at the very least.

It isn't exactly a playoff spot, but the Canucks can clinch the Western Conference (home-ice advantage through the first three rounds) by just making it to overtime or better tonight.  They just need one point against the Predators in Nashville to do that.

With a Blackhawks win over the Bruins, it will automatically eliminate both the Blue Jackets and the Blues, regardless of their results tonight.  Neither Columbus or St. Louis can top 91 points and a Chicago win will bring them to 92.  If the Blues were to beat the Wild tonight, plus a Blackhawks win, Minnesota would be on death's door, holding on to the adjusted wins tie-breaker as their slight possibility of staying in.

In the East, the Devils will not be eliminated from post-season contention, but will be put on death's door with a Sabres win over the Leafs.  The Sabres will jump the Rangers into 7th, leaving the Devils with a tie-breaking possibility on the Rangers for their playoff.  For all intensive purposes, winning outright is going to be next-to-impossible for the Devils, but as math states, they'll still be in.

And there you have it.  Only a couple teams can be shaved, but the teams will start falling off much faster now.

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