Since we're down to the final moments of postseason life for teams in contention, Puck Daddy solemnly begins a daily countdown to annihilation.
The Eastern Conference Playoff seeds are cemented after last night, while the West battles into the final day of the season. The Chicago Blackhawks, of course, hold the key today as they face the Detroit Red Wings this afternoon.
A regulation or overtime win for Chicago means a No. 4 vs. No. 5 battle between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks, which is incredible when you consider both were bubble teams as late as mid-week. The Nashville Predators would face the Red Wings in Round 1.
A shootout win for the Blackhawks means they'll face the Ducks in the 4 vs. 5 series, and that the Nashville Predators would tumble to the No. 7 seed to face the San Jose Sharks. That's because, as NHL.com explains, there would be a three-way tie in the standings:
Should Chicago defeat Detroit in a shootout, three teams (Chicago, Nashville and Phoenix) would end the season tied in points (99) and ROW (38) and occupy the 5 through 7 seeds in the Western Conference. The process to separate more than two teams tied in points and Regulation/Overtime Wins is … best percentage of points earned in games involving those teams.
Because of that, Chicago (13 points) takes fifth, the Coyotes (9 points) take sixth and Nashville (10 points) takes seventh.
An overtime or shootout loss for the Blackhawks, and they play the Sharks in the 2 vs. 7 series while the Preds face the Ducks as the No. 5 seed.
If the Chicago Blackhawks lose in regulation to the Detroit Red Wings and the Dallas Stars win at the Minnesota Wild in regulation or overtime, then the Stars are your No. 8 seed and the Blackhawks are out.
If the Blackhawks lose and the Stars lose, then the Blackhawks are the No. 8 seed. But honestly, what kind of team loses when they know they have their playoff fate in their hands?
All playoff percentages are from Sports Club Stats; the Tragic Number is from NHL Standings and Magic Numbers. The former is an industry standard; the latter is a site we discovered this week, and are hopeful that the figures are as accurate as those from NHL Playoff Race. Also: For the Percentage Chance of Making the Playoffs, we've included the figures from Hockey-Reference.com (HR), which is crunching its own numbers. It's listed with the percentage from Sports Club Stats (SCS).
Head here for an explanation of the Tragic Numbers.
Here's the Western Conference:
% Chance of Playoffs
% Chance of 7th
% Chance of 8th
Clinched No. 4 Seed
Los Angeles Kings
The Blackhawks have a 58-percent chance at finishing fifth.
So from the Vancouver Canucks' perspective, they will face the Kings, Blackhawks or Stars. The Sharks will face the Coyotes, Predators, Blackhawks or Kings. The Red Wings will face the Predators or Coyotes.
Initial thoughts on the East matchups, with our previews and predictions coming up in the next few days:
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers: Having watched this series two years ago, and the Canadiens series last season, the Capitals aren't going to have a cakewalk. First, because the Rangers caused them fits this season. But also because their system of shot-blocking, lane-clogging and Henrik Lundqvist saving everything is what gives the Capitals fits offensively. Well, OK, it's what gave the old Capitals fits; this is going to test whether Boudreau's change in team philosophy has paid off. And whether the Verizon Center has implanted proper barriers between taunting fans and John Tortorella.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres: Two teams headed in opposite directions at the end of the season, although perhaps hanging on to the division lead will give Philly a boost. Chris Pronger's participation in the series is a key, because Philly is simply a different team with him leading it. But at 8-1-1, the Sabres have the best record of any NHL team entering the postseason over its last 10 games.
Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens: The concern here for the B's is how much the ancillary stuff (rivalry, Pacioretty, fans burning Chara in effigy at Bell Centre) is going to affect the emotional dynamics of the series. They're a better team than Montreal, but there's a sense of unpredictability here. And not just because it's the first time we're seeing The New Carey Price in the postseason.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Without Sidney Crosby, this is going to be a rather tough challenge, because the Lightning have multiple scoring options, a good energy line led by Nate Thompson and Dwayne Roloson's playoff acumen between the pipes. But let's not underestimate the Penguins here, because it's not like they didn't have a whiff of a division title despite losing Sid and Geno. Fascinating series, this one.