Stanley Cup Playoff Push: Avs, Blues prepare for win-and-you’re-in game

HC at Noon gives congrats to the New Jersey Devils organization for making the playoffs, and list pretty much their entire roster when discussing all the good stories.

With three more days remaining in the NHL’s regular season, teams that have already clinched are jockeying for position while four teams battle it out for the final two spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here’s where things stand as we look ahead to a busy weekend of hockey.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

If the season ended today:

(A1) vs. (WC2)

(M1) vs. (WC1)

(A2) vs. (A3)

(M2) vs. (M3)

Eastern Conference standings heading into Friday’s action:

Who’s in?

With a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New Jersey Devils clinched their first playoff berth since the 2011-12 campaign that saw them make an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final only to fall short to the Los Angeles Kings. The Devils conclude the regular season Saturday on the road against the Capitals, a potential first-round opponent. Depending on various results over the weekend, New Jersey could finish as high as second in the Metropolitan with home-ice advantage in the opening round or as low as the second wild-card spot that would result in a matchup with either the Lightning or Bruins.

The Columbus Blue Jackets qualified for the post-season for the second time in as many years thanks to earning one point against rival Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blue Jackets have been in the playoffs just twice since 2009 and both times were felled by the Pens. As it stands right now, those two teams would meet again in the first round and, even though Columbus has been the hotter team of late, the defending Cup champs would in all likelihood be favoured based on their playoff history.

What else did I miss?

The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Carolina Hurricanes to remain four points ahead of the Florida Panthers. Philly needs one point in their final game Saturday afternoon at home against the Rangers to officially clinch and eliminate the Panthers. If the Flyers lose to the Blue Shirts in regulation, however, Florida would live another day so long as they get two points against the Sabres on Saturday night.

Boston lost its grasp on top spot in the Atlantic Division, at least temporarily, after falling 3-2 to the Panthers. The Bruins finish out their season Saturday against the Senators then Sunday in a make-up game against the Panthers yet again. That game could have a lot on the line for both teams depending on Saturday’s results.

Friday’s clinching scenarios

Neither the Flyers nor Panthers are in action so the final playoff spot can’t be determined until Saturday at the earliest. The Lightning host the Sabres with the chance to move two points ahead of the Bruins, and the Pens can clinch home-ice advantage with a win over the Sens.

Fun fact:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

If the season ended today:

(C1) vs. (WC2)

(P1) vs. (WC1)

(C2) vs. (C3)

(P2) vs. (P3)

Western Conference standings heading into Friday’s action:

Who’s in?

We’ve known the Nashville Predators would be in the playoffs for a while now, but the team secured its first Presidents’ Trophy Thursday, fittingly enough, with a 4-3 win over back-to-back reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners, the Capitals.

Nashville’s win means the Winnipeg Jets will host the Minnesota Wild in an opening-round Central Division showdown.

What else did I miss?

The Colorado Avalanche suffered a 4-2 loss to the Sharks that put a slight dent in their playoff chances. Los Angeles leapfrogged Anaheim thanks to Dustin Brown’s incredible four-goal effort in an overtime win against the Wild. The Kings, Ducks and Sharks are still jockeying for position. Two of those team will face off in the Pacific divisional series while the lowest seed of those three teams will play the Vegas Golden Knights. The Ducks host the Stars Friday.

It didn’t have any playoff implications but the Sedins’ sendoff in Vancouver was phenomenal.

Friday’s clinching scenarios

The Ducks and Kings clinched earlier this week so it’s just the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche remaining. The Blues visit the Blackhawks tonight in their penultimate regular-season contest. Regardless of what happens against Chicago, Mike Yeo’s group visits the Avalanche Saturday in what should be the most dramatic game of the weekend, one that will determine the final spot in the West.

Fun fact:

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