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Here are the last issues to be settled in the run-up to the playoffs
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

That’s it: the season is over. Most clubs still have a game or two left between now and the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.

For teams like the Habs, it’s more about what’s happening on Tankathon. And as I mentioned this morning, the Habs’ Tankathon rank hasn’t moved since yesterday.

But otherwise, we’re mostly looking at the real standings to see what’s at stake for the playoffs. That’s how we’re going this morning.


In the East, as you can see, the New York Rangers are the regular season champions. So they’ll be facing the East’s least playoff-bound team this year.

And that’s the most important issue between now and the end: who will be the 16th and last team to qualify for the NHL?

The Capitals, Red Wings, Penguins and Flyers, who all have a game to play between now and the end, can all aspire to qualify. The Capitals and Flyers cross swords tonight in Pennsylvania, the Penguins face the Islanders tomorrow and the Red Wings are in Montreal tonight.

The bottom line is that if the Capitals pick up two points tonight, they’ll go through. My colleague Raph Simard has put together a summary of the situation, but let’s just say that Washington is in the driver’s seat.

The Islanders, who managed to qualify for the playoffs thanks to Patrick Roy, will face the Hurricanes. They are guaranteed to finish third in their division and the Hurricanes will finish second. Carolina will have home-ice advantage.

On the other side? The Bruins have one more point than Florida, and first place in the division is at stake.

Since the Rangers are at the top of the NHL, the club that wins the Atlantic will face the Lightning. The club finishing second will host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So, here’s what it looks like visually.

  • Bruins or Panthers host Lightning
  • Panthers or Bruins host Maple Leafs
  • Rangers host Capitals or Red Wings or Penguins or Flyers
  • Hurricanes host Islanders (set in stone)

In the West, the Dallas Stars are guaranteed to finish at the top of the Central, but not necessarily at the top of the West overall. They have four points more than the Canucks, who have two games left to play.

A single point left on the table by Vancouver or a single point gained by the Stars would be enough for Dallas to finish on top.

That said, in this division, we know that the Jets will face the Avalanche in the playoffs. The Avalanche can still gain home-ice advantage, but the Jets have a game in hand (80 VS 81) and one more point.

But it’s after that that things get complicated.

The Predators, whose regular season is over, are guaranteed to finish seventh or eighth in the West. Vegas can still overtake Nashville in the standings, but if Los Angeles falls to the drafted teams, the Kings will be behind the Preds.

For Vegas to overtake Nashville, it will take four points, which means two wins. Nashville therefore has a good chance of remaining as the first team drafted at the moment.

The Oilers are guaranteed a top-2 finish in their division, and have a good chance of overtaking Vancouver. But that’s going to take two Edmonton wins and two Canucks regular season losses. #Improbable

If the Oilers finish second in their division, they’ll face either the Kings or the Knights. So it goes like this:

  • Stars or Canucks to host Golden Knights, Predators or Kings (for Western champion)
  • Jets or Avalanche to host Avalanche or Jets (cast-iron opponents, ice advantage to be determined)
  • Stars or Canucks or Oilers take on Predators or Golden Knights (for the second-best team in the West)
  • Oilers or Canucks face Kings or Golden Knights

As you can see, it’s much more complicated in the West. The games will be important for the future, and tonight’s matches will shed some light on the situation.

Here are tonight’s duels, for those interested.


In Brief

– The impact of the Karl Alzner buyout will fade from the Habs’ memory this summer. Tonight is the last game he’ll be on the Habs payroll.

– Lane Hutson didn’t like skating without a helmet.

– Macklin Celebrini is the top prospect in the upcoming draft.

– Really?

– The coaching waltz is crazy.

– Marc-André Fleury ended his streak of 17 straight playoff seasons.

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