With just a few days left in the NHL regular season, 12 of the 16 teams that will be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs are determined. Besides filling in the final slots, who finishes where has to be figured out.
Hockey players and coaches will tell you they don’t care who they play in the postseason, all that matters is winning 16 games and taking home the Stanley Cup. While that sounds good, everyone is human and if your path can in anyway be made easier for you to accomplish your goal, that is what anyone would prefer.
That is why the next few days matter as certain teams are not only are trying to earn a spot in the playoffs, but earn home ice advantage or possibly avoid facing particular opponents. For those of us making NHL picks, at least we know that the effort should be in place for particular matchups.
Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the entire playoff picture by conference.
Boston, Tampa Bay, and Toronto are set in the Atlantic, but there is still business to be decided.
The Bruins and Lightning are tied for 1st place, but because of an earlier snow storm in Boston, the Bruins and Florida have a makeup game on Sunday, the only conflict of the day. That contest could propel Boston into first place and they would avoid a dangerous Toronto squad in the first round.
Florida still has a mathematical chance to reach the postseason but would have to beat Boston twice and Buffalo in between to have any shot.