Playoff Push: Rangers need to gain ground

April 10, 2013, 9:57 AM

With the NHL playoff race heating up, we track the teams impacted by last night’s results and which of tonight’s games will affect the playoff picture:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

If the season ended today…

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (1) vs. NEW YORK RANGERS (8)
MONTREAL CANADIENS (2) vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS (7)
WASHINGTON CAPITALS (3) vs. OTTAWA SENATORS (6)
BOSTON BRUINS (4) vs. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (5)

Who’s already clinched? Pittsburgh Penguins.

Who can clinch tonight? No one.

What’d I miss? With their loss to Washington, the Montreal Canadiens failed to take advantage of a key opportunity and now just sit one point ahead of the rival Boston Bruins, who have a game in hand. In the same division, the Senators lost their fifth straight game and are barely hanging on to their playoff spot as the Winnipeg Jets and New York Islanders both won critical contests to inch closer to Ottawa in the standings.

Wednesday’s game to watch: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New York Rangers. The Leafs and Rangers wrap up their home-and-home series in a game where John Tortorella’s team is in desperate need of a win. The Rangers have the Jets and New Jersey Devils right on their heels , despite having two games in hand of Winnipeg, and need to slow down a red-hot Leafs team that is 7-1-2 in their last 10 games.

Tonight’s sked:

Boston vs. New Jersey – Bruins look to take back division lead while Devils look to inch closer to playoff spot

Fun fact: Ryan O’Byrne became the first Leafs defenceman to score in his first game since Jamie Macoun did it in January of 1992 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

If the season ended today…

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (1) vs. DETROIT RED WINGS (8)
ANAHEIM DUCKS (2) vs. MINNESOTA WILD (7)
VANCOUVER CANUCKS (3) vs. ST. LOUIS BLUES (6)
LOS ANGELES KINGS (4) vs. SAN JOSE SHARKS (5)

Who’s already clinched? Chicago Blackhawks.

Who can clinch tonight? Ducks clinch playoff berth with one point vs. Colorado.

What’d I miss? The idle Ducks were unable to clinch a playoff spot with the Kings laying an egg against a quietly-hot Stars team that is now just two points out of the No. 8 spot. The Blues shut out the dwindling Preds to jump the Wild, who were blanked at home by Chicago, in the standings while the Blue Jackets stayed alive with a dominant showing against the playoff-bound Sharks.

Wednesday’s game to watch: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Edmonton Oilers – The Oilers and Coyotes are trying to stay afloat as the both clubs have the odds stacked against them in the playoff race. The Oilers have lost three straight and need to jump Phoenx in the standings to have any chance of making a late-season run. At least, Edmonton won’t get first pick this year.

Tonight’s sked:

Vancouver vs. Calgary – Canucks hope to hold off lowly Flames

Colorado vs. Anaheim – Avs busy planning Vegas trips while Ducks look to move closer to Pacific Division title

Fun fact: Despite being just four points out of a playoff spot, the Oilers need to go 7-1-1 in their final nine games to qualify for the postseason.

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