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, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.
There are few certainties when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs; however, a regulation win by the New York Rangers on Tuesday will guarantee them home-ice advantage in each series for the entirety of their postseason run.
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF RACE
(Click chart below to zoom)
The Rangers (51-21-7), who have already clinched the Metropolitan Division title, can win the Presidents' Trophy with a road victory against the New Jersey Devils (32-34-13), a team they defeated 6-1 on home ice Saturday. New York then ended the nine-game winning streak of the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 4-3 overtime win Monday. The Rangers need one point to secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, as many as five of the remaining eight playoff berths up for grabs could be claimed by the end of the night. The Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins are all in action Tuesday with the opportunity to clinch. The idle Vancouver Canucks could find themselves in by the end of the night as well.
The Penguins (42-26-11) could deal a damaging blow to the chances of the Ottawa Senators (40-26-13) or find themselves even in the standings. A regulation win by Pittsburgh would send it to the playoffs. A regulation win by Ottawa would give each team 95 points, however Pittsburgh would continue to hold down a wild card in the East by virtue of holding the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker.
The Red Wings (41-25-13) need a win against the Carolina Hurricanes (29-39-11) and a regulation loss by the Senators to clinch a playoff spot.
The Islanders (46-27-6) visit the Philadelphia Flyers (32-29-18) needing a point to return to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. The Islanders would also clinch with a Senators loss.
The Wild (44-27-8), who visit the Chicago Blackhawks (48-25-6), get in with a regulation win. If they win in a shootout, they would also need the Winnipeg Jets or Los Angeles Kings losing their games in any fashion or the Calgary Flames failing to win in regulation or overtime. There are also multiple scenarios in which the Wild could clinch if they lose to the Blackhawks.
The simplest way for the Canucks to clinch would be if the Kings lose in regulation or the Flames and Jets each lose in regulation, though there are more complicated scenarios as well.
There's plenty of drama involving the race for the Central title, third place in the Pacific and the second wild card in the West too.
The St. Louis Blues lead the Central with 105 points, one ahead of the Nashville Predators and three in front of the Blackhawks. Each team has three regular-season games remaining.
The Blues (49-23-7) host the Jets (41-26-12) in a game that impacts the wild-card race, where Winnipeg is one point up on Los Angeles with three games left for each team. The Predators (47-22-10) visit the Colorado Avalanche (36-31-12), while the Blackhawks host the Wild.
The Kings (39-25-13) play at the Edmonton Oilers (23-43-13) looking to rebound from a 2-1 shootout loss Monday to the Vancouver Canucks. In addition to chasing the Jets for the second wild card, they are battling with the Flames for third place in the Pacific. Each team has 93 points and three games remaining, but the Flames (43-29-7), who welcome in the Arizona Coyotes (24-47-8), hold the ROW tiebreaker, 39-37.
Here's a closer look at the action Tuesday:
New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, MSG, MSG+)
New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG+ 2, CSN-PH)
Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET; ROOT, RDS, TSN5)
Carolina Hurricanes at Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-D)
Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-MW+)
Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-CH)
Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. ET; SPSO, ALT)
Arizona Coyotes at Calgary Flames (9 p.m. ET; SNW)
Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers (9:30 p.m. ET; SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, PRIME)
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.