09 April 2009

Wild Playoff Chances (AKA what to pray for)....

Okay so the Wild got an important win on Tuesday over Dallas which keeps them alive. Also, they also got some help in the form of Nashville and Edmonton losses. However St. Louis' victory over Phoenix on Tuesday still puts the Wild in a tough spot.

So with two games remaining, there are 4 teams left fighting for the final 2 playoff spots (Edmonton's loss coupled with St. Louis' victory eliminated the Oilers on Tuesday). Each of the 4 teams has two games remaining. So here is my look for the race for 7th through 10th in the Western Conference...

Team (Pts, Wins): (Games left) Remaining Schedule
ANA (88, 41): (2) Fr v. DAL, Sa @PHX
STL (88, 39): (2) Fr CBJ, Su @COL
NSH (86, 39): (2) Th @DET, Fr @MIN
MIN (85, 38): (2) Fr NSH, Sa @CBJ

So the Wild make the playoffs if...

If the Wild win both* of their games AND either of the following.
1) ANA gets held to 0 points in their final two games OR
2) STL gets held to 1 point or fewer in their final two games.+

*Note should NSH beat DET tonight, the Wild would have to beat Nashville in Regulation tommorow to deny the Preds any points in the above scenario.

Otherwise should NSH beat DET and lose to MIN in OT the Wild would then need ALL of the following...
1) MIN beat CBJ on Saturday
2) ANA to get held to 0 points in their final two games AND
3) STL to get held to 1 point or fewer in their final two games+

+There was a omission on Tuesday's post concerning St. Louis and Nashville. The Wild could've make the playoffs if either of these teams "get held to 3 points or fewer in their final 3 games" provided Anaheim got held to 0 under the first scenario. This is because the Wild would advance to the playoffs if they finish in a tie at 89 points against either/or both St. Louis and Nashville and Anaheim gets stuck at 88, the Wild would advance by having 40 wins (Nashville would also advance in this scenario with them picking up their 40th win at Detroit).

However, there are now no scenarios in which the Wild can get in with fewer than 4 points in their final two games and advance to the playoffs (Mainly because the Wild lost the season series against St. Louis and will at best tie the season series against Nashville).

Analysis...
The Wild are probably favorites at home against Nashville tommorow night, especially since the Preds are travelling from playing in Detroit tonight.

The Wild are probably even to a slight underdog at Columbus on Saturday. It does help that the Jackets have already clinched a spot in the playoffs so Saturday's game won't mean as much to them. Both teams also will be playing their second game in two nights on Saturday so fatigue should effect them both.

The bad news is Anaheim is very unlikley to be held without at least one point with two very lowly opponents left.

St. Louis is a tough call. Again Columbus doesn't have much to play for but they are probably even to a slight favorite over the Blues on Friday. However at Colorado on Sunday I imagine the Blues are a distinct favorite because it seems their in the playoffs in every scenario in which they beat the lowly Avs, so they will have everything to play for there.

I still think my picks from Tuesday are the most likley outcome (7) ANA, 8) STL, 9) MIN, 10) NSH), however 3 good results for the Wild on Friday change everything (Teams for Wild fans to cheer for in Italics)

Nashville at Minnesota
Columbus at St. Louis
Dallas at Anaheim

The other important games are...
Thu, Nashville at Detroit

Sat, Minnesota at Columbus
Sat, Anaheim at Phoenix
Su, St. Louis at Colorado

There is a more league-wide playoff breakdown on nhl.com today.

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