Tag:Playoff Watch
Posted on: April 8, 2011 4:44 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 5:05 pm
 

Playoff Watch: 'Canes, Stars face crucial tilts



WHO CAN CLINCH: The idle Washington Capitals will repeat as Eastern Conference champs if the Philadelphia Flyers lose to the Buffalo Sabres in regulation, overtime or a shootout.

The Philadelphia Flyers will clinch the Atlantic Division title with either: 
  • a victory over the Sabres combined with Pittsburgh Penguins loss to the New York Islanders
  • an overtime loss to Sabres and a Penguins loss. 

The Buffalo Sabres can secure a berth with either:
  • they net a point against the Flyers
  • the Carolina Hurricanes fall to the Atlanta Thrashers in regulation, overtime or a shootout.


The Nashville Predators will clinch a berth if either:

The Phoenix Coyotes can clinch a berth one of three ways:
  • a victory or a shootout/overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks
  • the Stars lose to the Avalanche in regulation, overtime or a shootout.
  • the Stars beat the Avalanche, but it’s in a shootout. 


The Anaheim Ducks can secure a berth three different ways:
  • the Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings
  • the Ducks get one pints against the Kings AND the Stars lose to the Avalanche.
  • the Stars lose to the Avs in regulation. 

The Chicago Blackhawks advance to the postseason with either:
  • a victory over the Detroit Red Wings in regulation or overtime coupled with a Stars loss or if the Stars need a shootout to beat the Avs. 
  • the ‘Hawks beat the Wings in a shootout coupled with a Stars loss. 


ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Montreal, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Washington.     

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Carolina Hurricanes (39-30-11) at Atlanta Thrashers (34-34-12), 7:30 p.m. 

Any kind of victory will move the Hurricanes into the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, although they may want to take care of things in regulation or overtime. Sure, a shootout win will give them two points and that’d be enough to boot the New York Rangers out of eighth. That would, however, still leave the Hurricanes and the Rangers with the same amount of regulation/overtime wins (34) heading into Saturday. (The Rangers finish up against the rival New Jersey Devils, while the ‘Canes play Tampa Bay.) The ‘Canes still hold the second tiebreaker, a better head-to-head record against the Rangers. 

All of the first five meetings between these two Southeast Division rivals have been one-goal games with four contests reached overtime. (One of the games also went to a shootout.) The Canes’ have won four of the five games with forward Erik Cole netting the game-winner Carolina’s three regulation/overtime wins. The road team has won nine of the last 11 meetings. 
The Thrashers showed with their 3-0 victory over the Rangers Thursday that they don’t mind playing the role of spoiler. Of course, they could just as easily help the Rangers with a victory tonight. Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves Thursday for his fourth shutout of the season. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Dallas Stars (41-28-11) at Colorado Avalanche (29-43-8)
The Stars can either rein in their playoff destiny or get eliminated tonight. No pressure. Dallas will probably know by sometime during the second period of their game how the Blackhawks-Red Wings contest turned out. A ‘Hawks regulation loss coupled with a Dallas regulation/overtime win puts the Stars back  in control heading into their finale against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. (In that scenario, a Stars victory in the finale would mean an entry in the playoffs and would mark the first time a division has gotten all of its teams into postseason at once.) The Avs have one two of the first three meetings between these two clubs. 

GOLF WATCH: The Stars will be eliminated with a loss combined with a regulation victory by Chicago. Calgary, Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Jersey, Minnesota, Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton are already mathematically eliminated.  

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 6, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 5:27 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Carolina faces another test

WHO CAN CLINCH: The idle Buffalo Sabres will seize a playoff berth if the Carolina Hurricanes lose to the Detroit Red Wings tonight (in regulation, overtime or a shootout). The Phoenix Coyotes will clinch a playoff berth with a victory over the Los Angeles Kings in regulation, also by any means. Conversely, the Kings can secure a playoff berth with a victory. 


ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Washington.     

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Detroit Red Wings (46-23-10) at Carolina Hurricanes (38-30-11), 7 p.m. ET

The ninth-place Hurricanes can’t let many more points slip away. The 'Canes enter with 87 points, four behind the idle, eighth-place New York Rangers. Both the Rangers and the Hurricanes will have two games left in the regular season after tonight. 

This is the one and only meeting this season between these two clubs and the Red Wings have an edge in the series, 32-25-8-0. Detroit has bounced back from a 10-3 beat down by the St. Louis Blues last Wednesday and has netted two wins in a row. 


ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Phoenix Coyotes (42-25-12) at Los Angeles Kings (45-28-6), 10:30 p.m. ET

One of these two teams can clinch a playoff berth with a victory tonight. The Kings are looking to bounce back from an ugly 6-1 loss to San Jose, the first game since both Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar went down to injury where Los Angeles was out-classed. 


GOLF WATCH:  The Calgary Flames can be eliminated couple different ways tonight. They’re out if the Chicago Blackhawks defeat the St. Louis Blues in regulation combined with a Flames loss. The Flames can also be ousted if they lose in regulation and the Blackhawks lose in overtime or a shootout. Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Jersey, Minnesota Columbus, Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton are already mathematically eliminated.  

-- A.J. Perez




Posted on: April 5, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Clinchers all around tonight



WHO CAN CLINCH: The Philadelphia Flyers can clinch the Atlantic Division with a victory over the Ottawa Senators tonight combined with a win by New Jersey Devils, who face the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flyers can also win the division with an overtime or shootout loss to the Sens coupled with regulation loss by the Penguins. 

The Washington Capitals can clinch the Southeast three different ways:
  • a regulation victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs
  • a point against the Leafs via a shootout/overtime loss and a Tampa Bay Lightning loss to the Buffalo Sabres (in any manner). 
  • a Lightning loss in regulation.


The Montreal Canadiens can secure a playoff berth with any kind of victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The idle Phoenix Coyotes are in if the Dallas Stars lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets

The Los Angeles Kings, also idle, are also in with a Stars loss, as long as it’s in regulation. 

The Nashville Predators can dance in the land of milk and honey if they beat the Atlanta Thrashers (in regulation, OT or shootout) and the Stars lose in any fashion. The Preds are also in with a shootout/overtime loss and a regulation loss by Dallas. 

ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Washington.     

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Tampa Bay Lightning (44-24-11) at Buffalo Sabres (40-29-10), 7 p.m. ET

The Sabres will again be without goalie Ryan Miller, who will miss his fourth consecutive game with an upper body injury. Of course, with the way rookie Jhonas Enrothm (pictured above) has been playing, he doesn’t exactly have to rush back. Enroth is 2-0-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in Miller’s absence. Enroth has gotten points in his last six starts overall and the Sabres, who enter three points ahead of idle Carolina in the eighth place, would like to see that trend to continue. 

Tampa Bay enters on a five-game win streak. Captain Vincent Lecavalier, who took a high-stick to the eye in Sunday’s 2-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, will play in tonight’s game, according to The St. Petersburg Times. He had been listed as day-to-day since he received stitches and was examined by an eye doctor. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Washington Capitals (46-22-11) at Toronto Maple Leafs (37-32-10), 7 p.m. ET
The Caps don’t need a victory to clinch the Southeast for a fourth consecutive season, but the Leafs do need one to stay alive in the playoff picture. Of course, even that may not be enough to keep the Leafs from missing the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season (see below).

GOLF WATCH:  The Toronto Maple Leafs will be eliminated if they lose (in any form) to the Capitals in regulation or overtime. Toronto is also out if the Sabres manage to get one point tonight. Atlanta, New Jersey, Minnesota Columbus, Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton are already mathematically eliminated.  

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 3, 2011 1:46 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2011 3:27 pm
 

Playoff Watch: East race could swing in Raleigh

WHO CAN CLINCH: The idle Washington Capitals will win their fourth consecutive Southeast Division title if Tampa Bay loses in regulation to Chicago. The Detroit Red Wings can clinch the Central Division title if they beat Minnesota (regulation or OT) OR if they win via a shootout and Blackhawks lose to Tampa Bay. If the Anaheim Ducks beat the Dallas Stars, as many as three teams can secure playoff berths. The Ducks and Los Angeles Kings are in with a regulation winand the Phoenix Coyotes can earn a slot with a regulation, OT or shootout win by Anaheim.

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Buffalo Sabres (39-29-10) at Carolina Hurricanes (38-30-10), 5 p.m. ET

Separated by just two points, there's plenty on the line for this fourth and final tilt between these two teams. The Hurricanes enter on a three-game win streak and have won six of their last seven games. The 'Canes are coming off a 4-2 victory over the the New York Islanders on Saturday. They were briefly just a point out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East until the New York Rangers used a 3-2 shootout victory over Philaelphia Sunday to push that margin back to three points and move up a spot to seventh. 

The Sabres -- who enter in seventh place in the East -- felt the absence of starting goalie Ryan Miller, who missed his second consecutive game with an upper-body injury. Buffalo still managed to pick up a point in an OT loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday, but Jhonas Enroth was shaky at times in net.

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Dallas Stars (38-28-11) at Anaheim Ducks (44-29-5), 8 p.m. ET
This game means a lot to plenty of teams (see above).  The Stars are fighting to stay in the playoff hunt heading into the final week of the season. (Dallas’ only hope with a loss would be to catch eighth-place Chicago, but that would be a major stretch.) The Ducks have won four of the first five meetings, although they could be without defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who left Saturday’s 4-2 loss to San Jose with an upper-body injury. The Stars have enter on a six-game skid. 

GOLF WATCH: The Calgary Flames will be eliminated if they lose to Colorado in regulation AND Chicago defeats Tampa Bay. Atlanta, New Jersey, Minnesota Columbus, Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton are already mathematically eliminated. 
Posted on: April 2, 2011 12:42 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2011 1:24 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Sabres to face Caps minus Miller

WHO CAN CLINCH: The Washington Capitals can seize the Southeast Division crown wiht a victory over the Buffalo Sabres combined with a regulation loss by the Tampa Bay Lightning, who take on the Minnesota Wild. The Boston Bruins can win the Northeast with either a point against the Atlanta Thrashers or if the Montreal Canadiens lose to the New Jersey Devils. The Detroit Red Wings can clinch a playoff berth if they get one point against the Nashville Predators or if the Dallas Stars lose to the Los Angeles Kings

ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Washington.    

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Buffalo (39-29-7) at Washington Capitals (45-22-11),  7 p.m. ET

The Buffalo Sabres will face at least the first game of this vital this two-game trip minus starting goalie Ryan Miller. It possible he could join the team in Ralaiegh, where the Sabres play tomorrow, The Buffalo News reports. Miller was injured when he took a shot near his collarbone on Tuesday. The team has described it as an upper-body injury. Backup Jhonas Enroth is coming off a 1-0 shutout victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday. 

While the Sabres have to battle to hold one to one the final two seeds in the East, the Capitals remain in the hunt to repeat as conference champs. The Caps could pull ahead of the idle Philadelphia Flyers with a victory. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Dallas Stars (38-27-11) at Los Angeles Kings (44-27-6), 4 p.m. ET

The Kings’ final five games are against Pacific Division opponents, starting with the Stars tonight. Los Angeles have lost Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams -- their two top scorers -- likely for the season over the last couple weeks and the team finally felt the lack of production as Vancouver beat the Kings, 3-1, on Thursday. Now, Los Angeles faces a Dallas team desperate to stay in playoff contention. The Stars are winless over their last five games and are 1-4-3  over the last eight. The San Jose Sharks embarrassed the Stars, who enter five points behind eighth-place Chicago, with a 6-0 victory on Thursday. 

GOLF WATCH: A regulation or OT loss by the Devils will officially end their playoff hopes. The  Thrashers are done if they lose in regulation to the Bruins. The Wild are done with any sort of loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Columbus, Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton are already mathematically eliminated. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 1, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: April 1, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Devils' run can come to end tonigh



WHO CAN CLINCH:  No new teams can clinch tonight. 

ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Washington.   

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Philadelphia Flyers (46-21-10) at New Jersey Devils (35-36-5), 7 p.m. ET

The Devils' thoughts of a miracle comeback can officially end tonight. If New Jersey doesn’t win, it will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. It was a heck of run. The Devils are 25-7-3 in their prior 35 contests, a streak that has led them out of the East basement and to at least striking distance of the eighth and final playoff spot. 

But, in the end, New Jersey was unable to shake off a 9-25-10 start, compounded by the Nov. 2 knee injury to  Zach Parise. He’ll be back Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens, but will miss tonight’s game, The Star-Ledger reports.

The Flyers, who needed a shootout on the final day of season to clinch a playoff spot a year ago, have a magic number of four to win the Atlantic Division and eight to win the East. Philly enters a point ahead of Washington.

GOLF WATCH: The Devils, as mentioned above, need a win to remain viable. The St. Louis Blues will be eliminated if they lose (in any manner) to the  Calgary Flames OR the Chicago Blackhawks earn at least one point against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton have already mathematically out of it.

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 31, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Leafs face another must-win game

WHO CAN CLINCH: The Boston Bruins can clinch the Northeast Division if they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Tampa Bay Lightning will secure a playoff berth if they beat the Pittsburg Penguins. The Canucks will seize the Presidents’ Trophy with a victory over the Los Angeles Kings combined with a regulation loss by the Philadelphia Flyers, who face the Atlanta Thrashers. The San Jose Sharks are in with regulation win over the Dallas Stars.

ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.   

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Toronto Maple Leafs (35-32-10) at Boston Bruins (43-23-10), 7 p.m. ET

Toronto won the last two meetings of these Original Six franchises and it probably needs to make it three in a row to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Leafs enter the night seven points behind both the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers, who each have 87 points and occupy seventh and eighth place, respectively.

The task is not an easy one tonight for the Leafs, who will need to get the puck past Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. Thomas has won his last four starts and has a 0.50 goals-against average during that stretch, which includes a 3-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. He has nine shutouts this season, the most for a Bruin since Byron Dafoe (10) in 1998-99. The Leafs’ young goalie, James Reimer, has also kept them competitive for weeks. He leads all rookies in save percentage (.922) and is 13-4-4 in his last 21 decisions. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Los Angeles Kings (44-26-6) at Vancouver Canucks (51-17-9), 10 p.m. ET
The Kings have so far have not felt the absences of their top two scorers. The Kings have won all three games minus Justin Williams (out at least another three weeks with a separated shoulder suffered March 21) and their victory Tuesday over the Edmonton Oilers came without Anze Kopitar (out indefinitely with torn ligaments in his ankle). Los Angeles enters on a four-game winning streak overall, but the biggest test comes tonight against a team that can clinch the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history. 

GOLF WATCH: The Columbus Blue Jackets need to win tonight to remain in the mix. The Atlanta Thrashers need to get at least one point tonight. Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Colorado and Edmonton have already mathematically out of it.

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: March 30, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 3:55 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Seeds could shift in East tonight

WHO CAN CLINCH: The idle Tampa Bay Lightning can lock down a berth if the Carolina Hurricanes lose in regulation to the Montreal Canadiens

ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.   

GAME OF THE NIGHT: New York Rangers (41-30-5) at Buffalo Sabres (38-29-9), 7 p.m. ET
The Sabres could tie the seventh-place Rangers points-wise with a victory. Both enter with 33 regulation/overtime wins -- the first tiebreaker -- so if this game goes to a shootout it becomes even more convoluted. But with five games left for each team after tonight, there’s plenty of time sort things out. Buffalo, which fell to Toronto on Tuesday, is probably more worried about the team behind them. The Carolina Hurricanes are just three points back. One thing the Sabres have going for it is that they haven’t lost consecutive games since Feb. 18-20. The Rangers have won two of the first three meetings between the clubs. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Montreal Canadiens (41-29-7) at Carolina Hurricanes (36-30-10), 7 p.m. ET
The Eastern Conference is not as bunched up for the final playoff seeds as the West, but games like this make things interesting. The ‘Canes beat the Washington Capitals --- for the first time in six meetings this season --- on Tuesday, a victory powered by rookie Jeff Skinner and the goaltending of Cam Ward. Skinner knotted the game at the end of regulation and scored one of Carolina’s two shootout goals in the 3-2 win at Verizon Center. The Hurricanes face another team that they have gone winless against this season, this time in the previous three meetings. 

GOLF WATCH: The New Jersey Devils will be eliminated a couple different ways tonight: If New Jersey loses (in regulation or overtime) and the Buffalo Sabres defeat OR if the Devils lose in regulation and the Sabres earn at least one point. The St. Louis Blues will be eliminated if: they lose to the Detroit Red Wings, in any manner.  Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Colorado and Edmonton have already mathematically out of it.

-- A.J. Perez
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com