Can Canadiens catch struggling Jets?

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It’ll be as busy as it may get on the NHL schedule Saturday, with 15 video games on the docket. Since each workforce within the NHL (besides Vancouver) has eight video games or much less left of their common seasons, every recreation now is sort of a playoff recreation for these nonetheless with out an “x” beside their identify, or jockeying for place and, possibly, a greater Round 1 matchup.

To assist provide the full image of what may be achieved this weekend and which video games particularly have probably the most that means, here is our newest take a look at the playoff image.

NORTH DIVISION

If the season ended right now…

(1) x-Toronto vs. (4) Montreal
(2) Edmonton vs. (3) Winnipeg

What the playoff race seems to be like…

Are we going to get Leafs-Habs or not?

The speaking level on the backside of the playoff image is shifting once more, however now it is about what is going on on inside of it.

Two weeks in the past we questioned if the Flames, clinging to hope, nonetheless had a shot. They had quite a lot of floor to make up but in addition had 5 head-to-head video games towards Montreal, the workforce they have been chasing. Well, although Calgary went 3-2 in these video games, it wasn’t sufficient and making up six factors in seven video games the remainder of the way in which now could be a near-impossibility.

Any mixture of eight factors gained by Montreal or misplaced by the Flames on this remaining stretch will mathematically eradicate Calgary.

Instead, the Canadiens at the moment are wanting up.

With the Winnipeg Jets sliding on a three-game shedding skid, the Canadiens have third place inside their sights. The two met on Friday, a 5-3 Canadiens win, bringing Montreal inside 4 factors of the Jets with a recreation in hand. Winnipeg is off till Monday, however the Canadiens get Ottawa at house Saturday evening. Montreal is 3-3-2 towards Ottawa this season, so it is not as if that is going to be a straightforward recreation, particularly on the second half of a back-to-back with Cayden Primeau beginning.

After Saturday evening, the Habs will end with three video games towards Toronto, two towards Edmonton and yet another towards Ottawa over the following week and a half to wrap their season. Winnipeg will get two towards Ottawa, two towards Vancouver and one every towards Calgary and Toronto. We’ve been monitoring towards our first Leafs-Habs playoff collection since 1979, however now we might get one other standings shift.

Other necessary upcoming video games…

• The Canucks even have higher playoff odds than Calgary although they’re technically on the backside of the desk proper now. But these are fading because the anticipated results of fatigue might be seen on this week’s three-game shedding skid. The Canucks’ slender path again into fourth place will rely on Montreal ending chilly and the way they do towards the Oilers. That’s who Vancouver will play 4 occasions subsequent week. But first up are the Maple Leafs on Saturday evening, a workforce that has already clinched and is taking the chance to relaxation some gamers.

CENTRAL DIVISION

If the season ended right now…

(1) x-Carolina vs. (4) Nashville
(2) x-Florida vs. (3) x-Tampa Bay

What the playoff race seems to be like…

Why Saturday brings Dallas’s greatest recreation of the season

Lurking within the weeds with video games in hand all season lengthy, the Dallas Stars now have an analogous schedule to all these round them the remainder of the way in which. They solely have one recreation in hand of Nashville, the workforce they’re chasing and enjoying towards Saturday evening.

It’s the final time Dallas will go head-to-head towards the Preds, who they’re 3-0-4 towards this season. Two of these wins got here within the first two video games of the season and, actually, it has been a nail-biter of a collection ever since.

As you possibly can inform by the document, there’s been quite a lot of additional time performed between these two. Four of their previous 5 conferences have gone to extra time or a shootout. Five of the seven video games they’ve performed all season have been determined by a purpose.

The results of Saturday’s recreation might wildly swing the playoff race in both course. If the Stars lose in regulation, they’d be left with a “tragic number” of six, that means any mixture of six factors gained by Nashville or misplaced by Dallas would finish the Stars. A Stars win in regulation would go away the 2 tied in factors, with Dallas having one recreation in hand.

The Stars don’t play one other recreation at house and might be spending the following two weeks on the street towards Florida, Tampa and Chicago. Nashville will set off to Columbus for 2 video games towards the listless Blue Jackets this week after which wrap up at house towards high seed Carolina.

Other necessary upcoming video games…

• Although Nashville or Dallas (whoever finishes fourth) could hit the playoffs on a excessive notice, that will nonetheless be a most well-liked first-round collection as a substitute of getting to play Tampa, or Florida for that matter. Carolina put themselves in nice place to say the highest seed (and thus keep away from these two in Round 1) when a current eight-game run towards Florida, Tampa, Dallas and Nashville resulted in a 5-0-3 document. They have not misplaced in regulation since April 12 towards Detroit.

But there’s nonetheless work to be accomplished. The Canes face Columbus (1-7-2 of their previous 10) on Saturday and, whereas Florida and Tampa each must face Dallas after which one another down the stretch, the Canes will get three house video games towards Chicago (4-5-1 of their previous 10) this week. That’s the place they may draw back and clinch high spot.

• Tampa has the perfect shot to catch the Canes, however there’s not a lot room for error so the back-to-back video games they’ve towards Detroit this weekend will set the tone for the approaching week. The Lightning will then have two video games towards Dallas this week, which might be vastly necessary in deciding that final playoff spot within the division, and will additionally affect the highest of the desk.

EAST DIVISION

If the season ended right now…

(1) x-Washington vs. (4) Boston
(2) x-Penguins vs. (3) NY Islanders

What the playoff race seems to be like…

Can the Islanders break their stoop and bury rival Rangers?

For a lot of the season, the N.Y. Islanders have firmly been within the contender dialog. And they’re most likely nonetheless there as a result of “defence wins championships” and that is their greatest power. Still, you would like to enter the playoffs on a excessive notice, and the Islanders have been heading in the other way for a while.

Since captain Anders Lee was misplaced for the season to harm, the Islanders are twenty seventh in 5-on-5 Corsi For proportion, twenty first in 5-on-5 pictures for proportion and twenty first in offence. They dropped three in a row to Washington and two in a row to Boston over the previous two weeks.

At the identical time, they’ve nonetheless managed a really low 2.33 GAA over this stretch, the third-best mark within the league. And they’ve dealt with the Rangers with two wins towards them prior to now week and a half by an mixture 10-1 rating and get them once more on Saturday evening.

Another win and, possibly, it will assist the Islanders acquire some momentum as they face a comparatively tender schedule the remainder of the way in which. The Islanders will face Buffalo and New Jersey this week, with nonetheless a shot at high spot within the division, or at the least Round 1 home-ice benefit (no matter which means this season).

An Islanders win would additionally all however finish the Rangers, who’ve been hanging across the playoff image with a valiant effort however victimized by Boston’s post-deadline sizzling streak. The Rangers have been 10-4-2 in April however are nonetheless six factors out of the playoffs. A regulation loss Saturday mixed with a Bruins regulation win towards Buffalo would go away the Rangers with a “tragic number” of 1.

Other necessary upcoming video games…

• Saturday’s Pittsburgh-Washington recreation has main implications for the race for first within the division. It’s the final time the 2 will meet within the common season, and follows Pittsburgh’s 5-4 OT win on Thursday. After Saturday, the Pens wrap with two video games every towards Philadelphia and Buffalo this week, whereas the Caps get the Rangers (2), Flyers (2) and Bruins (1) of their last 5. Washington has that recreation in hand, so the Penguins cannot give up any factors. Alex Ovechkin, who missed Thursday’s recreation and hasn’t performed since April 22, returned to apply Friday.

WEST DIVISION

If the season ended right now…

(1) x-Vegas vs. (4) St. Louis
(2) x-Colorado vs. (3) x-Minnesota

What the playoff race seems to be like…

Are the Blues peaking on the proper time?

The Blues are 7-3-0 of their previous 10 and have created quite a lot of house between themselves and the Arizona Coyotes for that fourth spot. They’re up by simply three factors, however have three video games in hand. The race is not formally over, however we are able to begin excited about how the Blues will match up towards Vegas or Colorado in Round 1.

You wish to hit the playoffs on a excessive notice (and the final time the Blues did that they went on to win the Cup), however is that this sizzling run a results of some vastly improved play? Nine of these 10 video games got here towards Vegas, Colorado and Minnesota, with the opposite towards Arizona. No tender touches. But what do the numbers say?

Just of their previous 10, the Blues are twentieth in 5-on-5 pictures for proportion and twenty ninth in anticipated objectives for proportion however have outscored their opponents by six in that scenario. The workforce’s taking pictures proportion has been 10.09 (third-best) and save proportion .931 (ninth-best). Both are nicely above the place they rank in these stats on the season.

Jordan Binnington is having his finest month and, actually, if he carries that into the post-season he’ll be the X-Factor that would assist the Blues overcome a few of their underlying quantity indications. The Blues have not instantly regained some misplaced magic however are discovering methods to win towards their high opponents, and which means one thing this time of 12 months when each post-season pattern measurement (max of seven video games) is small.

Other necessary upcoming video games…

• The Coyotes are kind of going to must run the desk. Since standing pat on the commerce deadline as a result of they have been accountable for the race, Arizona is 3-6-0 and the 2 video games dropped to San Jose this week have been devastating to their hopes. The Coyotes received an Adin Hill shutout towards Vegas on Friday and can face the Golden Knights once more Saturday with Darcy Kuemper doubtless in internet. Then they get two at house towards Los Angeles and two extra again on the street in San Jose to wrap their common season on the finish of subsequent week. Going excellent the remainder of the way in which is doable, however a tall, tall ask. And even that will not assure something.

• The Avs snapped a three-game shedding streak Friday when Philipp Grubauer fortunately returned to the web and instantly posted a shutout. But if they will come again on Vegas and cross them for first within the division, Devan Dubnyk finally has to do extra. He’s the doubtless starter Saturday towards his former San Jose Sharks workforce however has an .887 save proportion for the reason that commerce. The Avs even have back-to-backs towards the Kings subsequent week after which once more the week after to finish their common season, so Dubnyk has a couple of extra projected begins forward. If he does not enhance, not solely will the Avs miss out on the highest seed, they might find yourself behind the Wild in third.