We're coming up on the final weekend, and plenty of playoff spots are unsettled. In the East, Carolina and Washington still haven't settled the Southeastern Division, and the loser might not even make the playoffs. All told, Carolina, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Ottawa are battling for four spots. The Rangers and Devils have clinched a spot, with Pittsburgh and Montreal battling it out for the first and second seeds.
In the NHL, the playoff tiebreakers are fairly simply. First, of course, is points (2 for a win, 1 for an OT/shootout loss). Second is wins. Third, between two teams, take the points earned by each team in that head-to-head matchup. If they have an uneven number of home games in the season series, the first home game of the team with more home games is disregarded. If three or more teams are tied, take the highest percentage of possible points earned among those three+ teams, disregarding any odd home games. If still tied goal differential is used. See? Simple.
For the Eastern Conference, here is where we stand (bolded teams are in, division winners get top 3 seeds no irrespective of points):
1) Pittsburgh (102 pts, 47 wins) @PHI Sun 3p
2) Montreal (102 pts, 46 wins) TOR Sat 7p
3) Carolina (92 pts, 43 wins) FLA Fri 7p
4) New Jersey (97 pts, 45 wins) @PHI Fri 7p, NYR Sun 3p
5) New York Rangers (95 pts, 42 wins) NYI Fri 7p, NJ Sun 3p
6) Ottawa (94 pts, 43 wins) BOS Fri 7:30p
7) Boston (92 pts, 40 wins) @OTT Fri 7:30p, BUF Sat 7p
8) Washington (92 pts, 42 wins) FLA Sat 7p
9) Philadelphia (91 pts, 40 wins) NJ Fri 7p, PIT Sun 3p
Note that there are really two races here. The first is for the Southeast Division crown, between Washington and Carolina. Both have only Florida left on the schedule. Because Carolina owns the tiebreakers, Washington wins the division ONLY with a Hurricane loss in regulation tomorrow and a Caps win or OT loss Saturday or a Hurricane OT loss tomorrow and a Caps win Saturday.
blahblahblah Will both wunderkind meet in a first round playoff matchup?
Of the five teams fighting for the last four spots, Carolina most easily controls its own destiny. Ottawa, too, clinches a spot with a win, an OT loss, a Carolina loss, a Washington loss, or a Philadelphia loss. Boston has two games left, but with only 40 wins they stand to lose any tiebreaker with Washington if they both are stuck at 94 pts. Likewise, Philadelphia would lose any tie with Washington if both teams are stuck on 94 pts, but Philadephia would win a tie at 94 against Boston.The bottom line is points though. With 9 relevant games left, you could go crazy trying to figure out all the scenarios. Root against all the teams ahead of you and most of the teams behind you.
I'm holding off on clicking the post button because the Western Conference is minutes away from settled. And...thanks to Vancouver's loss it now is. All eight spots are locked up.