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Friday, March 30, 2012
Playoff update: Clinching scenarios

By Jesse Rogers

Everyday between now and the end of the regular season I’ll update you on the playoff race as it pertains to the Chicago Blackhawks:

Thursday’s 4-3 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues put the Hawks on the cusp of a playoff berth while closing the gap on the No. 5 seed Nashville Predators and No. 4 seed Detroit Red Wings.

The Hawks remain the No. 6 seed and if the Los Angeles Kings lose on Friday night to the Edmonton Oilers, the Hawks will clinch a spot in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. If the Kings win on Friday the Hawks can still clinch a spot on Saturday by earning at least a point in their game against Nashville. There are other scenarios this weekend that clinch a playoff berth even if the Hawks lose on Saturday.

The Predators and Red Wings face off in Detroit on Friday, assuring both teams cannot earn two points.

The worst-case scenario would be an overtime game, giving points to both teams. The Wings have 97 points, the Predators, 96, and the Hawks 95. But the former two teams have a game in hand.

Blowing a 3-1 lead to the Blues but still winning in a shootout on Thursday actually has one negative for the Hawks. The win won’t count when it comes to tiebreaker scenarios. If two teams are tied in points, non-shootout wins is the first tie-breaker. The Hawks have 37, the Wings 39, and the Predators 40. The Hawks could have closed the gap on the first tie-breaker but instead won in the shootout.

Though it changes on a daily basis if the postseason began today, the Hawks would face the No. 3 seed Dallas Stars in the first round of the playoffs.