With the NHL season coming to a close in a little over a week several teams have punched their tickets to the “second season” (which is technically the third if you include preseason). The chase for the final few playoff spots in each Conference continues to be tight, with six teams fighting over four spots in the East and three teams fighting over the remaining two spots in the West. Let’s break it down.
Sitting atop the Western Conference is the Central Division powerhouse St. Louis Blues. Leader of the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks, trail them by a mere point. If the standings stay as they are, St. Louis would play the second wild card team and Anaheim would get the first. However, Anaheim is only leading San Jose by three points with two games in left, so it’ll be interesting to see how that turns out
If the playoffs started today, St. Louis would open up at home against division “rival” Dallas and Colorado would open up at home against Chicago. However, Colorado only has a one point advantage on Chicago with two games left. The bottom half of the bracket would see Anaheim opening at home against YOUR Minnesota Wild and San Jose playing host to the Los Angeles Kings. Unlike previous years the teams will not be reseeded after the first round so the winner of St. Louis/Dallas series would play the winner of Colorado/Chicago. The same, obviously, would also hold true for the other half of the bracket.
As far as our local team goes, the Minnesota Wild currently hold the first wild card position with 94 points and only three games remaining, all of which are at home. With their 1-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets last night all they have to do is get one point in their remaining games or have the Phoenix Coyotes lose one of theirs. In other words, barring an historic collapse, the Wild will indeed make the playoffs for the second time in as many seasons.
The way things are shaping up the NHL playoffs should be as entertaining as always. Let’s just hope that the hometown team can avoid another embarrassing one-and-done showing.
Remaining Wild Games:
Tuesday April 8th vs. Boston
Thursday April 10th vs. St. Louis
Sunday April 13th vs. Nashville
Peter Ripka is the co-host of the Rambling On podcast. He's a blogger and analyst who specializes in sports, particularly hockey and baseball. Reach him via email or find him on Facebook and Twitter.