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West playoff picture complete: Sharks, Kings and Coyotes are in

Apr 5, 2012, 11:06 PM EDT

With the Pacific Division title still up for grabs, it’s unfair to say that the Nashville Predators’ 2-0 win against the Dallas Stars killed the drama of matches like the Los Angeles Kings-San Jose Sharks home-and-home series. Still, the Predators’ pursuit of home ice advantage* sure made things a lot less interesting.

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Update: the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to revel in their role as spoilers; they eliminated the Colorado Avalanche with a 5-2 win.

What it clinched:

Playoff spots for the Phoenix Coyotes, Kings and Sharks.

Who’s eliminated:

The Stars would max out at 91 points, so the Predators hammered the final nail in their season. The Avalanche can only get 90, so they’re done too – and against a team that’s far less dangerous (although almost as dangerous lately).

Why there’s still some drama:

Again, the good news is that Pacific – and thus, the third seed – is still up for grabs. (Also, the seventh seed serves as a solid consolation prize.)

Sure, it’s not as thrilling as just about everyone fighting tooth-and-nail for a playoff spot, but notching the No. 3 spot can be a huge advantage – especially if the Vancouver Canucks and/or St. Louis Blues stumble in early playoff rounds. Still, it’s stunning to realize that the Stars could have been right there too if they took care of their late-season business.

* Nashville’s win and Detroit’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils means that the Predators only need a point to clinch the fourth seed and the huge (especially in negative way for the Red Wings) home ice advantage in their likely upcoming series. Of course, there’s also a chance the Chicago Blackhawks could slide into the fifth seed; check out this breakdown from On the Forecheck for all the headache-inducing details.

  1. cameltoews - Apr 5, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    I think Detroit might be in some trouble if they don’t get home ice advantage. I think pekka can definitely steal that series.

    • danphipps01 - Apr 6, 2012 at 3:37 AM

      Frankly, I’d give the Preds an edge over Chicago too. Fifth seed is not a happy place to be in the West this year when you can annihilate one of the Pacific hangers-on from sixth. That’s a WAY easier matchup.

      • comeonnowguys - Apr 6, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        Preds play the perfect style to slow Chicago down, with a high-quality goalie and they’re extremely well-coached at it.

        Not to say Chicago may as well pack it in if they face each other, but if you ask most Blackhawk fans, Nashville is the team of which they’re most wary.

        No matter what, that 4-5 matchup in the West is going to be grueling. Unless you’re a fan :)

    • gekkoguy82 - Apr 6, 2012 at 8:06 AM

      As a Detroit fan, I’m not looking forward to a matchup with the Preds. They’re dangerous, and they’re really going to feed of the fans’ emotions in a huge way, more so than other opponents because of Nashvillians’ rivalry with the Wings. Bridgestone is going to be rocking. The Preds have a chip on their shoulder regarding Detroit, and this season they’ve got the pieces in place to exercise the demons. Obviously if anybody can rise to the occasion, it’ll be the wings, but still. We’ll see I guess. I’m sure it will be a great series though, regardless of the outcome!

  2. trbowman - Apr 5, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    If the Blackhawks beat the Wings in regulation would they be the fifth seed over Detroit?

    • James O'Brien - Apr 6, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      Yup, On the Forecheck has a breakdown of the scenarios.

  3. blackhawkslove - Apr 6, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    As much as I’m a die hard blackhawks fan, I would prefer them to lose in OT to the Redwings on sat, hoping that we play San Jose or Phoenix in the first round. A first round date with the Predators would be most likely a trip home and a early vacation.

    Let Detroit and Nashville duke it out, going to be the best first round match up for sure.

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