Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Leafs Eliminated, Habs Clinch

Yes, it's all over for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as of the first couple games of the evening, they were eliminated by virtue of the Sabres beating the Lightning in regulation, but their shootout loss to the Capitals wasn't going to help either. The storybook run for Toronto has come to an end, but it does leave a fair amount of hope behind, as James Reimer was very good in that stretch run and really kept the Leafs in much longer than they may have likely deserved.

The Leafs have been struck from the online selection sheet, so you don't have to worry about picking them by mistake.

With a win over the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime, the Montreal Canadiens picked up the two points they needed to clinch their playoff berth on Tuesday night, moving themselves into 6th place in the East with the win and truly safe from the Carolina Hurricanes.  Feel free to include a Habs player or two on your selection sheet going forward.

In the West, the Nashville Predators needed a win and a Dallas Stars overtime loss (at the very least) to clinch their playoff berth on Tuesday night.  The win they earned handily over the Atlanta Thrashers, but by the Regulation/Overtime wins tie-breaker, the Stars kept themselves in the conversation with Nashville for another day with a win over the Blue Jackets.  The Predators are now a single point away from clinching, which should be a slam dunk for them, Friday against Columbus.

ImplicationsOkay, time to have a look at Wednesday's games, see what the skinny is on eliminations and clinches in the eight games on the schedule.

The biggest game in the Eastern Conference belongs to the Carolina Hurricanes, who play the Detroit Red Wings... a win will draw them back within two points of the New York Rangers for 8th spot, with the same amount of games to be played down the stretch, while a regulation loss will put them on the brink, with only the Regulation/Overtime wins tie-break to save them.  A regulation or overtime loss for the Hurricanes will clinch a spot for the Sabres as well, as they have the tie-breaker on Carolina.

In the West, there is a possible elimination on the cards, as the Calgary Flames are on the brink of missing the playoffs.  Any combination of two points lost on the night, will see the Flames extinguished, as they do not have a tie-breaker going forward and all teams in their playoff picture are playing on Wednesday night.  The Flames are playing the Oilers on Wednesday and a regulation loss would seal their fate, while an overtime loss or a win will then put their elimination on the shoulders of both the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks, both teams in action as well.  The Ducks host the Sharks and the Blackhawks host the Blues and if both teams win, regulation, overtime or shootout, the Flames are done.  If all three teams (Calgary, Anaheim and Chicago) lose in overtime, the Flames are done.

Teams that can clinch a playoff spot in the West include the Coyotes and the Kings, who only need to make it to overtime in their game against themselves to clinch.  They could just as easily stroll through 60 minutes in a tie game and play for the extra point in overtime, winner moving into 4th place in the Conference.  Definitely something to play for tonight.

Looks like we're in for an interesting night.

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