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Division title, 3 playoff spots at stake tonight

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 11:05 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

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Division title, 3 playoff spots at stake tonight
As we enter the final 10 days of the 2011-12 regular season, it seems every game is taking on epic proportions.

When the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks face off Thursday at the United Center, both teams will have something major to play for.

2011-2012 Standings

Western Conference
ROW = total number of regulation plus overtime wins. For tie-breaking purposes, wins obtained in a shootout are not counted. For full standings tiebreakers, click here.
03/29/12 11:06AM
For the Blues, a regulation or overtime victory would give them their first Central Division title since the 1999-2000 season. They would join the Northwest Division-winning Vancouver Canucks as the only division champions this season.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, can become the fifth Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot. Chicago needs a win, as well as a Phoenix Coyotes regulation loss to the San Jose Sharks, to clinch.

The Blues, Canucks, Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators already have clinched playoff spots.

Two more Eastern Conference teams can also punch their playoff tickets Thursday.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins need a victory at home against the Washington Capitals (7 p.m., NHLN-US) to have a chance to defend their title.

A Bruins win also would help the Devils get into the playoffs. If the Devils beat the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Bruins beat the Caps, New Jersey earns its playoff trip. The Devils also can get in by earning one point against the Lightning combined with a Capitals regulation loss to the Bruins.

If the Bruins and Devils get in, they would join the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers in the East playoff picture. All three divisions remain up for grabs.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82