With Florida and Buffalo eliminated last night, all eight playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference are now wrapped up. There’s still some work to do as far as which of those eight will finish where, however.
We now know that the New York Rangers and Montreal will finish seventh and eighth (in an order yet to be determined) and that the Canes can drop no lower than sixth. Carolina is currently in a three-way tie with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with 97 points, holding the total wins tiebreaker with the Penguins but not the games-in-hand tiebreaker with Philadelphia, thus their current position in fifth.
Philadelphia also lost last night, meaning that home ice advantage in Carolina is still a possibility. The Canes would need to win at New Jersey tomorrow and hope the Flyers lose at least one of their remaining two games (or drop two points) against the Islanders (tomorrow) and Rangers (Sunday). In the event of a tie, the Canes have clinched the total wins tiebreaker.
Even if they lose tomorrow, Carolina could also back in to playing their first two games at the RBC Center in the event that Philadelphia loses both of their games and Pittsburgh comes away pointless from their final game at Montreal tomorrow.
Match-up wise, Carolina has assured itself of playing either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh in a 4/5 series or New Jersey in a 3/6 series if Pittsburgh were to leapfrog the Canes on Saturday. That could make tomorrow’s game against the Devils essentially Game 0 of yet another first-round meeting between the two clubs.
Wasn’t this supposed to get easier once the Hurricanes clinched a playoff spot?