By: Sydney Fann
The regular season is drawing to a close this weekend, signaling the coming of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And as usual, there is no peaceful ending to this years’ regular season. The Eastern Conference has a three-team race for the two final spots and a fight for a divisional sport between two teams, and both divisions in the Western Conference have fights for the top spots.
In the Eastern Conference, there are two remaining spots, a third seed and the final wild card spot. As of right now, the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins both have 93 points with 1 game remaining and the Philadelphia Flyers have 92 points with two games remaining. Looking at this crazy mess of a situation, one can only assume that the final games for these three teams will be absolutely crazy.
Detroit’s final game will be against the New York Rangers, who are currently tied with the New York Islanders in points but stuck in the first wild card spot. This game is the last game for both teams, and both teams’ playoff positions are riding on the end result of the game. If the Rangers win this game, Detroit potentially risks being eliminated from the playoffs altogether. If Detroit wins, the Rangers will be stuck in their wild card spot.
Boston is facing the Ottawa Senators, who have been eliminated from the playoffs, so the Senators will only be acting as a spoiler for the Bruins. If the Bruins win, they have a good shot at claiming the third spot in their division, especially if Detroit loses on Saturday. If Boston loses, they will have to hope the Flyers don’t win otherwise the Bruins might lose their playoff spot.
The Flyers are in a much better position than Boston and Detroit since they have two games remaining instead of one. The Flyers will be playing Pittsburgh, who have firmly secured their playoff position, and the Islanders, who will either be fighting for their spot or firmly claiming their spot as third in their division. The Flyers have a lot of power with their final two games, and Boston and Detroit will be anxious to see how many points the Flyers end up with.
On the Western Conference side, the fights are between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings for the Pacific Division title and between the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars for the Central Division crown. After Thursday night’s games, the Blues and Stars are tied with 107 points and both have one game remaining. The Blues are facing the President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals while the Stars are facing the Nashville Predators, who have claimed the top wild card spot.
The Central Division situation is quite simple: Dallas wins, and they keep their top spot; Dallas loses, and they hope the Blues lose too or else they drop down to second in the division. The Pacific Division is a little more complicated than the Central, but it’s mostly a fight between the Kings and Ducks. The San Jose Sharks also technically have a shot at moving up to the second spot, but that is not entirely likely. The Pacific Division champ will most likely be decided by the winner of Thursday night’s game, as it is between the Kings and Ducks. If the Ducks win, the Kings will be forced to win their final game and hope that the Ducks lose, otherwise the Kings will stay in second. If the Kings, win, the Ducks will have two games to possibly overtake the Kings.
The final few days of the regular season will be very important in deciding playoff spots and the final playoff teams. Everything will firmly be decided on or by Sunday, but until then, fans across the country will be extremely nervous watching the final games that their teams play.