Saturday, April 7, 2012
Playoff update: Four potential foes
By Jesse Rogers
DETROIT -- All 30 NHL teams will be in action on the final day of the regular season Saturday and, finally, the playoff picture will be set. The only game on Friday that affected the Western Conference race saw the Phoenix Coyotes beating the St. Louis Blues, 4-1, vaulting the Coyotes back into first place -- and the No. 3 seed -- in the Pacific Division.
Here are the playoff scenarios facing the Chicago Blackhawks as they take on the Detroit Red Wings Saturday afternoon. Keep in mind the first tie-breaker is total non-shootout wins by each club and the second tie-breaker is total points earned in the head-to-head series between the two teams.
If the Hawks beat the Wings in regulation:
The Hawks will earn the No. 5 seed by virtue of the second tie-breaker. Both Chicago and Detroit will have 101 points and 39 non-shootout victories but the Hawks will have more points in the head-to-head season series so they would earn the No. 5 seed and would play Nashville in the opening round of the playoffs. That series would begin in Nashville on either Wednesday or Thursday.
If the Hawks beat the Wings in overtime or a shootout OR lose to Detroit:
Chicago will be the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference and play the winner of the Pacific Division to be determined later on Saturday.
If Phoenix wins its game in Minnesota, it wins the Pacific Division and so the Hawks and Coyotes would meet in the first round with the series beginning in Glendale, AZ. either Wednesday or Thursday.
If Phoenix loses in regulation time, the Hawks would play the winner of the San Jose Sharks/Los Angeles Kings game. Either series would begin on the road, most likely on Thursday.
If Phoenix loses in overtime and the Kings beat the Sharks in regulation or overtime, Los Angeles wins the division by virtue of their head-to-head series with Phoenix. But if the Kings win in a shootout, Phoenix wins the division due to having one more non-shootout victory on the season.
If Phoenix loses in overtime and the Sharks beat the Kings, Phoenix also wins the division by having more non-shootout victories than San Jose.
The NHL will announce a full playoff schedule on Sunday.