The 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs are headed to a path of 5 Canadian teams in 5 different series, though 2 of the teams still need to clinch that playoff spot. The hope for a Battle of Alberta looks really slim with Calgary fighting hard to avoid playing Chicago. The hope for a Battle of Ontario requires a bit of luck and Boston suddenly going south.
The Montréal Canadiens have clinched the Adams/Atlantic title and will play the New York Rangers in the opening round. Boston has clinched a playoff spot but Ottawa and Toronto haven't. Carolina is gone but the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay are barely hanging on to hopes.
The Senators and Maple Leafs have an extra game over Boston but need to take advantage of the advantage.
U.S. television will have key games in the next 3 days: Ottawa @ Boston Thursday (NBCSN); Tampa Bay @ Montréal Friday (NBCSN); Calgary @ San Jose Saturday (NHL Network).
#2 Wild Card race
The best the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay can do is tie Ottawa. Boston is in because of a 42 ROW (regulation and overtime wins). Toronto has 38 and Ottawa 37, more than the Islanders and Lightning. However, if they tie Ottawa, their ROW numbers would be better.
For Ottawa to clinch a playoff spot, the Senators need a point or for NYI and TB to get fewer than 2 points in a game. For Toronto to clinch a playoff spot, the Maple Leafs need a point and a TB shootout win or loss and a NYI loss of any kind.
But this is more likely about positioning. The team that falls to the #8 seed will almost certainly face Washington in the opening round. The other two teams play each other with the second place team picking up home ice. Boston has the tiebreaker over Ottawa and Toronto for positioning.
The Canadiens host Tampa Bay on Friday. The Sens play at Boston Thursday and at the New York Islanders Sunday.
April 7 Tampa Bay 7:30p
April 8 @ Detroit 7p
April 6 @ Boston 7p
April 8 NY Rangers 12:30p
April 9 @ NY Islanders 5p
April 6 Tampa Bay 7:30p
April 8 Pittsburgh 7p
April 9 Columbus 6p
Schedule for wild card contenders
April 6 Ottawa @ Boston 7p; NY Islanders @ Carolina 7p; Tampa Bay @ Toronto 7:30p
April 7 Tampa Bay @ Montréal 7:30p
April 8 Washington @ Boston 3p; NY Islanders @ New Jersey 6p
April 9 Buffalo @ Tampa Bay 5p; Ottawa @ NY Islanders 5p
Wild Card race
Tuesday night was not good for either Alberta team. Edmonton is still in a lot better shape. The Oilers have a slim chance of winning the division. Edmonton trails Anaheim by 4 points but with 3 games to play; the Oilers are only 1 ROW behind the Ducks. The Oilers would lose a tiebreaker with San Jose but can control their fate for 2nd place with a game in hand and a date in San Jose tonight. Edmonton will be rooting for Calgary Saturday night.
Calgary is guaranteed to be a wild card team. The Flames opening round opponent will likely be Anaheim or Chicago with Edmonton and San Jose having slim chances of winning the division. The only scenario for a Battle of Alberta is Edmonton winning the division AND Calgary finishing as the #7 seed. Not likely.
As we noted last week, Calgary only has to beat out the bottom team of the Nashville-St. Louis fight to be the #1 wild card. Short of a St. Louis collapse, that team will be Nashville. The Blues are a point ahead of the Flames with a game in hand and the tiebreaker. Calgary and Nashville are tied and the Flames have the tiebreaker. The Flames will be rooting for the Winnipeg Jets Saturday night.
April 6 @ San Jose 10:30p
April 8 @ Vancouver 10p
April 9 Vancouver 9p
April 6 @ Los Angeles 10:30p
April 8 @ San Jose 10p
Schedule for "Smythe" contenders
April 6 Chicago @ Anaheim 10p; Edmonton @ San Jose 10:30p
April 8 Calgary @ San Jose 10p
April 9 Los Angeles @ Anaheim 8:30p
Schedule for wild card contenders
April 6 St. Louis @ Florida 7:30p; Nashville @ Dallas 8:30p
April 8 Nashville @ Winnipeg 7p; St. Louis @ Carolina 7p
April 9 Colorado @ St. Louis 6p