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Playoff Countdown: Potential for wild night in West @NHL

(Click chart below to zoom)
(Click chart below to zoom)
Playoff race chart
Playoff race chart
Related information: "If the playoffs started today ..."  |  Current playoffs standings

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

Monday promises to be a wild night in the Western Conference, as two teams have the opportunity to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the battle for the second wild card continues.

The Minnesota Wild (44-26-8) can become the fourth team from the Central Division to make the playoffs with a regulation or overtime win at home against the Winnipeg Jets (40-26-12). The Wild can also get in with a shootout win if the Los Angeles Kings lose to the Vancouver Canucks in any fashion.

The Canucks (45-29-5) will attempt to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the Kings (39-25-14). A regulation win and a Jets loss to the Wild in regulation would clinch a postseason berth for the Canucks and help solidify their second-place standing in the Pacific Division, which carries home ice for the first round.

The Kings and Jets each have 92 points. Los Angeles currently holds the second wild card by virtue of having more regulation/overtime wins (ROW), though with a win Monday the Kings would move past the idle Calgary Flames into third place in the Pacific.

Two teams fighting to avoid elimination, the San Jose Sharks (39-31-9) and Dallas Stars (38-31-10), face off at SAP Center. The Sharks are five points behind the Kings and Jets, while the Stars are six points back.

In the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers (50-21-7) will take another step toward winning the Presidents' Trophy if they can cool off the Columbus Blue Jackets (39-35-4), who have been eliminated from playoff contention despite winning a franchise-record nine in a row. The Rangers have 107 points, same as the Anaheim Ducks, but have two games in hand.

Here's a closer look at the action Monday:

Carolina Hurricanes at Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, MSG-B, BELL TV)

Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SNE, SNO, SNW, FS-O, MSG)

Winnipeg Jets at Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-N)

Los Angeles Kings at Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, PRIME, SNP)

Dallas Stars at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW+, CSN-CA PLUS)

The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots are filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It is possible for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends just three.

Seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second-fewest points.

The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. There is no reseeding as the tournament moves to the second round and winners of that series advance to the conference championship series and the right to play in the Stanley Cup Final.

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