It's the next to last day of the regular season and the playoff matchups are far from set. While the Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals hold the Conference leads, the only other determined playoff spots are the Boston Bruins' third place and the Tampa Bay Lightning's fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The New York Rangers won their final game today, keeping their playoff hopes alive, at least until the conclusion of tonight's Canes-Bolts game. The following is a short guide to the rest of this weekend's games and their playoff implications, either for looking for games to switch over to or to understand the implications of the out-of-town scoreboard in the Big Billboard during tonight's Cats game.
WSH at FLA: None
Washington has already taken the Eastern Conference lead and can't catch up to League leading Vancouver.
MTL at TOR: EC 6/7
Montreal is currently sitting in sixth, but is tied in points with Buffalo. Any combination of points in this game and BUF@CBJ that gives the Canadiens more points will result in a first-round grudge matchup with the Boston Bruins. A loss puts them against the Flyers or Penguins.
NYI at PHI: EC 2/4, ATL 1/2
Right now the Flyers hold second place in the Eastern Conference and first place over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division by a tie-breaker. They need a win or a regulation loss tonight to cement second place and a matchup with the Sabres or Canadiens. If the Pens score one point more than the Flyers, Philly will find itself hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.
TBL at CAR: EC 8
The Lightning are in fifth place in the east no matter what happens, but a Hurricanes win tonight will give them a first round berth against the Washington Capitals and push the Rangers out of the playoffs on the last weekend of the season for the second year in a row. The Rangers, of course, lost in a shootout to last year's eventual Eastern Conference champion Flyers.
BUF at CBJ: EC 6/7
The Sabres have clinched a spot and right now are looking at a first round matchup with the Flyers or Penguins. A win tonight combined with a Montreal loss will move them up into place against the Bruins.
NSH at STL: WC 4/5/6
Nashville is in fourth, tied in points with the Coyotes and one ahead of the Kings. A win tonight and they're hosting any one of the Coyotes, Kings, Ducks or Blackhawks depending on how the rest of the games go. A loss and they could end up fifth or sixth, losing home ice and facing the Coyotes, Kings, Red Wings or Sharks.
VAN at CGY: None
Calgary is out and Vancouver has locked up the President's Trophy.
ANA at LAK: WC 4/5/6/7/8 This one is huge, as the winning team has a chance to take fourth place and get home ice advantage in the first round, while the loser could end up in a first round matchup with the Vancouver Canucks.
PHX at SJS: WC 2/3/4/5/6/7/8
Another big one, as a San Jose win will cement their lead on third place Detroit, while a Phoenix win would move them into fourth place if Nashville loses, or at least hold them in fifth, while a loss could potentially send them into eighth.
DET at CHI: WC 2/3/4/5/6/7/8
A loss by the Sharks tonight will give Detroit the opportunity to take second place in the west with a win, while any points by the Blackhawks will guarantee them a playoff berth. A Blackhawks loss will give Dallas the opportunity to take eighth and knock Chicago out of the playoffs. A Blackhawks win could potentially move them as high as fourth, though seventh or eighth is more likely.
BOS at NJD: None
PIT at ATL: Depends on the result of Saturday's NYI@PHI
If the Flyers lose tonight, this puts second place in the Eastern Conference in play and any points by the Pens will put them in second and the Flyers in fourth.
EDM at COL: None
DAL at MIN: Depends on Sunday's DET@CHI game
If Chicago loses its afternoon game to the Red Wings, a Dallas regulation win would knock the reigning Stanley Cup Championships out of the playoffs on the same tiebreaker that kept the Panthers out two seasons ago.