The Boston Bruins got their wish on Friday night, as the Buffalo Sabres dropped a 5-3 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins, which took fate out of their own hands and gave them their playoff spot. The Bruins clinched by virtue of the first tie-break in the overall standings, regulation and overtime wins, so they move one step closer to repeating as champions this year.
The Eastern Conference is all kinds of tight heading into the playoffs, which should split the vote and the selections in the playoff pool this year, but you have to know that players like Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas will be hot commodities. I think we'll see a fair number of Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron picks this year, not to mention some love for Milan Lucic. The Bruins are going to be a good team to watch again.
The Blackhawks had a chance to clinch last night, but it was on a hope and a prayer that the Oilers would beat the Kings, but they have their fate in their own hands tonight, as they take on the Nashville Predators. This is not going to be an easy task for the Blackhawks, but they only need a single point out of this one, so making it to overtime will be key, if they cannot win it outright.
The New Jersey Devils look like they can clinch their playoff spot in the East with a single point against the Hurricanes tonight. The Devils, Capitals and Sabres have that combination of points and maximum potential points at 94, so if the Devils can squeak out a point or if they lose, they'd need either the Capitals or Sabres to lose (overtime is fine) on Saturday night. Looks fairly safe that the Devils will lock it up tonight.
On the elimination side, the Islanders, Lightning and Jets will be out with a Capitals or Sabres win tonight. It's just that easy in the East. In the West, the Flames will be eliminated with a loss to the Canucks or they'd need Dallas and Phoenix to win, if they beat Vancouver. There will be lots of movement tonight, a lot of which, should come through.
The playoff pool is rounding into shape quite nicely.