Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday's Playoff Pool Implications

With the Detroit Red Wings laying a whomping on the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Colorado Avalanche taking a regulation loss against the San Jose Sharks, the grizzled veterans from the Motor City have indeed clinched their spot in the Western Conference playoff picture and they will move on, after the season ends on April 7th.  If you've been watching the Red Wings, you'd have noticed that their game is peaking at the moment, even without starting goalie Jimmy Howard, who has been nursing a groin injury.  The Red Wings will be a likely favourite this year and rightfully so.

The Nashville Predators had the chance to clinch on Monday night, being idle, but that didn't materialize for them.  On the plus side, they do have their own fate in their own control with a game against the Division and Conference-leading St. Louis Blues.  All the Predators have to do is head to overtime and they will clinch their spot.

In the East, it will be more about the eliminations from the playoffs, more than it will be the clinches.  Upwards of two teams could be eliminated on Tuesday night, with one more moving onto death's door, as the battle for 8th spot in the East, between Washington and Buffalo will give one of these two teams points in the standings and if they go to overtime, that would do a lot more damage.  Carolina, Toronto and Long Island can all max out at 87 points and the Hurricanes and Leafs play each other, while the Islanders play the Penguins, so anyone taking a loss should be eliminated.  Even if the Hurricanes and Leafs go to overtime, the loser could very well be eliminated.

Frankly, with the Winnipeg Jets losing to the Senators on Monday night, that has really set the bar for possible Eastern Conference teams in the playoffs, limiting them to a possiblity of nine teams, since the Jets are now 6 points out.  They could run the table and get 90 points in the standings, but the winner of the Capitals and Sabres will be sitting at 86 points, really squeezing the possibility for the Jets out the window.

Now, most of the East eliminations will be more of a technicality, more than a race that slowly drops off teams.

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