The National Hockey League regular season comes to an end today as every team will play Game 82 of the season. Game 82 can be meaningful to every team in the National Hockey League for one reason or another. Of course, every team hopes that last game of the regular season has them playing for something and they all hope that something isn’t a tee time! They want that something to be a chance to win the Stanley Cup!
The 2010-11 season ended for some teams on April 9th and for others on April 10th and when it came down to game 82, there were still teams vying to make the playoffs and to establish playoff positioning in their last games of the regular season. You can’t really hope for anything more than this if you’re the National Hockey League. Parody is a good thing for every sports league.
All in all, 10 of the last 16 games of the 2010-11 season played a part in who made the playoffs and where teams were seeded in the playoffs. So 19 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League had their last game be of some importance to either them or their opponent.*
*You’re probably wondering how it can be 19 instead of 20 since 10 games would be 20 teams. That’s because New Jersey’s game against the New York Rangers was their second to last game as they would play their last game the next day which would be a relatively meaningless game hosting the Boston Bruins.
The Chicago Blackhawks lost their last game to Detroit so they needed the Minnesota Wild to play the spoiler and beat the Dallas Stars* in order to get the final Western Conference playoff spot and the New York Rangers beat New Jersey but needed Tampa Bay to beat the Carolina Hurricanes in order to secure the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
*With the Wild having such a terrible slide to end their season, losing 11 of their last 15 games and 8 in a row at one point, it was a fun game to watch as they beat the former Minnesota North Stars franchise, ending their season and keeping the Dallas Stars from making the playoffs! There was something pretty sweet about that! By the way…Norm Green still SUCKS!
So…what’s happening at Game 82 of the 2011-12 season? Well, we know what 16 teams are in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs but we don’t yet know where they are seeded and who they will play. With all the excitement of last season, the National Hockey League has every team ending the season on the same day which should make for some exciting games!
In both conferences, there’s a division championship up for grabs, many teams can still get home-ice advantage and even the President’s Trophy for the team with the most points in the National Hockey League is yet to be settled. Of the 16 playoff teams only 5 teams know where they are seeded and only 2 teams know who they are going to play when the playoffs begin next week.
This is what we know. In the Eastern Conference, New York is the 1st seed, Boston is the 2nd seed, Pittsburgh is 4th, Philadelphia is 5th and New Jersey is 6th. That means Pittsburgh will play Philadelphia in a 7-game series. Every other match-up is yet to be determined.
The Florida Panthers (yes, the Florida Panthers) are currently leading the Southeast division (and have the 3rd seed) but are only two points ahead of the Washington Capitals and could go from the 3rd seed to the 8th seed if the Capitals win and they lose. The Capitals will have to beat the #1 seed New York in New York to have a chance at the division title and the 3rd seed in the East.
The New York Rangers can still win the President’s Trophy with a win over the Washington Capitals and get home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A Ranger victory would also mean they would meet the Capitals in a first round playoff match-up.
The Ottawa Senators could secure the 7th seed if they avoid losing in regulation in New Jersey and would end up playing Boston in the first round. A loss would mean they could be 7th or 8th depending on who wins the Southeast division between Florida and Washington. Ottawa holds tiebreakers over Florida but not over Washington.
In the Western Conference, no seed has been determined yet. We know that Vancouver and St. Louis will have home-ice advantage and Chicago will not have home-ice advantage and that’s about it. So much can change in the West, it’s ridiculous!
The Pacific division could be won by the Phoenix Coyotes, the Los Angeles Kings or the San Jose Sharks. Phoenix is in the lead and a win in Minnesota would give them the division title. A loss would open the door for either Los Angeles or San Jose to win the division and San Jose hosts Los Angeles in the last game of the night. An overtime loss or a shootout loss and Los Angeles could still win the division. San Jose needs a Phoenix loss in regulation to have a chance at the division title and the 3rd seed.
The Nashville Predators currently hold the 4th seed and is one single point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings so a loss could open the door for Detroit to take the 4th seed and home-ice advantage in the first round. Detroit, hosting the Chicago Blackhawks, has to get at least one point to maintain the 5th seed. A loss and Chicago would get the 5th seed. Nashville holds tiebreakers over Detroit so they can only get the 4th seed with any kind of victory and a Nashville loss in regulation.
The Vancouver Canucks hold the 1st seed and are two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues. They are also tied with the New York Rangers for the President’s Trophy with New York breaking any tie. The St. Louis Blues have tiebreakers over Vancouver so a victory in Dallas would get them the 1st seed in the West.
WOW! I think that’s it for the most part so let’s get to the games and who has a chance to be a spoiler. Of the 15 games on the day, there’s six games that don’t matter, five games between playoff teams and four games where a non-playoff team could play spoiler in some way.
The games that won’t change anything in the standings:
Buffalo @ Boston – 4pm ET – Network – MSG-B (HD), NESN(HD)
Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh – 4pm ET – Network – NBCSN
Anaheim @ Calgary – 4pm ET – Network – PRIME (HD), SNET-W (HD)
Toronto @ Montreal – 7pm ET – Network – CBC, RDS (HD)
Tampa Bay @ Winnipeg – 7pm ET – Network – CBC, CW44
New York Islanders @ Columbus – 7pm ET – Network – MSG PLUS (HD), FS-O (HD)
The games between playoff teams that could change playoff positioning:
Chicago @ Detroit – 1pm ET – Network – NBC (HD)
Ottawa @ New Jersey – 3pm ET – Network – CBC, MSG PLUS (HD)
Washington @ New York Rangers – 6:30pm ET – Network – NBCSN (HD)
Los Angeles @ San Jose – 10:30pm ET – Network – NBCSN (HD), KCOP-13 (HD), CSN-CA (HD)
The games with spoiler possibilities:
Carolina @ Florida – 7:30pm ET – Network – FS-CR (HD)
Phoenix @ Minnesota – 8pm ET – Network – FS-A PLUS (HD), FS-N (HD)
St. Louis @ Dallas – 8pm ET – Network – FS-MW (HD), FS-SW+ (HD)
Nashville @ Colorado – 9pm ET – Network – FS-TN (HD), ALT (HD)
Edmonton @ Vancouver – 10pm ET – Network – CBC
NBC & NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) have a quadruple header planned for tonight starting with CHI @ DET on NBC. After that game, turn the channel to NBC Sports and watch PHI @ PIT (Rivalry is hot right now) followed by WSH @ NYR and ending the night with LA @ SJ! WOW! It should be fun to watch as all of these games have big stakes for what happens in the playoffs.
Being a Wild fan, I’m looking forward to seeing how the Wild come out against a Phoenix team and goalie that have a chance to win their division. The Wild have been playing pretty well, winning 4 of the last 5, albeit by way of overtime or shootouts. They seemed to perform very well last season in the spoiler role and I expect them to be very competitive tonight!
I hope to see the Clutter Broughten in all of these games!
Maybe the regular season isn’t so regular after all. The battle for the Stanley Cup has already begun!
Enjoy the games today and good luck to every team in the postseason and the offseason!
Hey, I could use some help in my fantasy league as well! What’s more important than that? Where’s our Stanley Cup?
You’ve just been ClutterPUCKED!