With the NHL regular season winding down there is plenty of Stanley Cup implications on the line in tonight’s action that has eleven games on the schedule. Of those eleven games, five will have a direct impact on some team’s fate and whether or not they’ll be playing in the second season known as the playoffs.
Let’s start in Winnipeg where it’s do or die for the Jets when they host the Montreal Canadiens tonight. For the Jets it’s real simple; win and then hope the New York Rangers and/or the Ottawa Senators lose.
The deck is stacked against the Jets as they play their 48th and final game of the regular season. Sitting one point back of both New York and Ottawa, Winnipeg will need some help if they hope to make it to the dance, but they can’t look to far ahead. The Canadiens are already in the playoffs but they still have plenty to play for in the Northeast division title.
Currently tied with the Boston Bruins, the Habs have played one more game than their arch rivals, making tonight’s contest ever important.
The MTS Centre will be rocking and needless to say it will be a playoff type atmosphere. As a result, I’m calling the Jets with a 4-3 overtime win that could blow the roof off the arena and keeping their playoff hopes alive.
All eyes will be on the out of town score board in Winnipeg, more specifically with what’s going on in Washington and Carolina.
The Jets had been chasing the Washington Capitals for the division lead up until Tuesday night when they were defeated by the Ovechkin led Caps. With the division now secured the Caps have nothing left to play for and suddenly every Jets fan will be cheering the Capitals on as they host the Ottawa Senators.
The Sens look like a good bet to make the playoffs given they have three games remaining, including tonight’s. With Winnipeg down to their last chance to secure two points, the Sens will have at least two more tries to get into the playoffs and with Erik Karlsson returning tonight they may not need the other two.
But this is a Capitals team that has been steam rolling clubs lately, ever since Adam Oates put Ovechkin on a line with Nicklas Backstrom. I’m taking the Caps in a 4-2 win, keeping the Jets alive and well.
As mentioned, the other game Jets fans will be keeping an eye on is in Carolina where the Hurricanes will host the New York Rangers. Carolina has a nice side story going with Jared Staal set to make his NHL debut and play alongside his brother Eric and Jordan, but for the Rangers it’s all business. Two points or bust should be the Rangers philosophy. With a game in hand on the Jets, New York needs to control their own destiny tonight and not have the last game of the year have so much riding on it.
My predicition? Rangers with a 4-1 win and securing themselves a playoff spot.
Out west there are two games that will impact who makes the top eight in the conference. The first has the Detroit Red Wings hosting the Nashville Predators. The Wings won their game in hand on the Columbus Blue Jackets last night by beating the LA Kings to go one point up for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Predators are playing for the draft lottery now but still have much to prove as they wind up the season. A team that appears to be lacking an identity lately, it could be easy to overlook the Preds. But when you have a room full of veteran presence, the Wings will skate away with a 4-2 win.
Finally, in Dallas the Blue Jackets need to win to keep pace with the Red Wings as both clubs have two games remaining. While the Stars aren’t out of the playoff picture entirely, they need to win both of their games including tonight’s in regulation and rely on a lot of help. With so much riding on this game tonight, I think both clubs will play a tight, defensive checking game, resulting in overtime being needed to decide the winner. Five minutes of four-on-four may not be enough so I’m calling a 3-2 shootout win for the Dallas Stars.
It’s sure to be an exciting night on the ice with the playoffs looming. Agree or disagree with my predictions? Let me know by leaving your comments below.