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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK