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Coyotes and Others Punch Ticket To Postseason; Seeding Still In The Air

With last night's win, the Phoenix Coyotes have (finally) clinched a playoff berth in the uber-competitive Western Conference. With the way things currently stand, a team with 97 points is likely to be left on the outside looking in. The Coyotes meanwhile, can finish anywhere from 4th in the West to 7th depending on what happens the remainder of this weekend.

We will look team-by-team and check the current standings, playoff odds and who they would play with their current match-up and how what they do could affect the Coyotes.

As a primer, the tie break system in the NHL for this year is as follows if teams are tied in points: (1) Regulation/OT wins (ROW); (2) points earned in head-to-head games; and (3) goal differential.



Vancouver Canucks - 81 G, 53-19-9, 115 Points
Playoff Odds:  IN (all odds courtesy of Sports Club Stats)
Weekend Schedule
:  Saturday @ Calgary
Current Match-up:
Best Possible Outcome (for the Coyotes):  Doesn't matter whatsoever what happens in this game. The Coyotes cannot be the eight seed and won't be seeing Vancouver until at least the second round.



San Jose Sharks - 81 G, 47-25-9, 103 Points
Playoff Odds: IN
Weekend Schedule:  Saturday vs. Phoenix
Current Match-up:
Best Possible Outcome:  Considering that last night was the Coyotes' first win in 9 tries against the Sharks, I'd rather not see them in the first round. The last few games between Anaheim and San Jose have been spirited affairs, so that would be a pretty entertaining (and potentially bloody) match-up.



Detroit Red Wings - 81 G, 46-25-10, 102 Points
Playoff Odds:  IN
Weekend Schedule
:  Sunday @ Chicago
Current Match-up:  Los Angeles
Best Possible Outcome:  With the way Detroit looked last night against a highly-motivated Chicago team, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to play this team. A lot of key players (Datsyuk, Zetterberg) are banged up a bit and second year goalie Jimmy Howard has looked shakier than last season. But for a rocking Arena full of Coyotes fans, I'd prefer to avoid these guys if possible in the first round.



Nashville Predators - 81 G, 44-26-11, 99 Points, 38 ROW; series split 4 points each; +27 goal differential
Playoff Odds:  IN
Weekend Schedule
: Saturday @ St. Louis
Current Match-up:  Phoenix
Best Possible Outcome:  It would be the most defensive of the series' in the first round with these two teams facing off as both Nashville and Phoenix like to play a grinding style and wait for a mistake to create a scoring opportunity. Because Nashville holds the tie breaker with Phoenix, the Coyotes need to earn more points than Nashville in the final game of the season to get home ice. Go Blues!!!



Phoenix Coyotes - 81 G, 43-25-13, 99 Points, 38 ROW; +7 goal differential
Playoff Odds:  IN
Weekend Schedule:  Saturday @ San Jose
Current Match-up:  Nashville
Best Possible Outcome:  The Coyotes have been road warriors all season, so I'm not sure not having home ice advantage will really faze this squad. That being said, getting on a roll and winning a few games is better for the team morale and drawing energy from a sold out arena also will be key in the postseason. Gaining more points than Nashville tonight locks up the 4th seed for the Coyotes.



Los Angeles Kings - 81 G, 46-29-6, 98 Points, 36 ROW
Playoff Odds:  IN
Weekend Schedule:  Saturday vs. Anaheim
Current Match-up:  Detroit
Best Possible Outcome:  Last night's loss to the Ducks gave the Coyotes the first tie break against Los Angeles, so if they finish even in points, the Coyotes get the benefit here. If the Coyotes get at least a point tonight, they will finish ahead of Los Angeles in the standings.



Anaheim Ducks - 81 G, 46-30-5, 97 Points, 42 ROW
Playoff Odds:  IN
Weekend Schedule:  Saturday @ Los Angeles
Current Match-up:  San Jose
Best Possible Outcome:  With Anaheim's win last night against Los Angeles, they clinched a playoff berth. If they win again tonight and the Coyotes and Predators lose in regulation, they will jump all the way to the 4th seed and have home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Pretty remarkable for a team that was fairly recently on the outside looking in.



Chicago Blackhawks - 81 G, 44-28-9, 97 Points, 38 ROW; series split 5 points each; +32 goal differential
Playoff Odds:  85.6%
Weekend Schedule
:  Sunday vs. Detroit
Current Match-up:  Vancouver
Best Possible Outcome:  A win by Chicago and loss by the Coyotes in regulation will allow the Blackhawks to leapfrog the Coyotes in the standings. If they win and Nashville loses in regulation, they will leapfrog Nashville as well (they hold all tie breakers with the Predators). With a win, they will also leapfrog either Los Angeles or Anaheim depending on the outcome of that game. And if Chicago loses in regulation, Dallas can still overtake them if Dallas wins in regulation or overtime because Dallas won the season series 6-3. Confused enough? For the defending Stanley Cup champs, taking a point from bitter rival Detroit is all they need to focus on for the time being.



Dallas Stars - 81 G, 42-28-11, 95 Points, 37 ROW; Coyotes win head-to-head 8-6
Playoff Odds:  14.4%
Weekend Schedule: Sunday @ Minnesota
Current Match-up:  Out of the playoffs
Best Possible Outcome:  Despite having won their last four games, Dallas' playoff odds plummeted by over 15% last night with the wins by Nashville, Phoenix, Anaheim and Chicago. Now Dallas' only hope is to beat Minnesota in regulation or overtime and see Chicago lose in regulation against Detroit. That Dallas or Chicago could finish the season with 97 points and not make the playoffs is amazing and that it all comes down to the final game of the season is a fantastic outcome for the NHL.