Because it's no longer a race to make the playoffs when all 16 spots have been clinched. Now, it's a race for seeding. But before I get into that, I have to confess I screwed up on yesterday's update. You see, I was under the impression the NHL's tiebreakers went from Wins to Goal Differential, forgetting that points earned in the season series between two teams that are tied factors in after Wins.
Anyway, St. Louis' 3-1 win over Columbus coupled with Minnesota's 8-4 win over Nashville eliminated the Predators. Then Anaheim eliminated Minnesota by getting to OT against Dallas despite Steve Ott's valiant efforts last night. And when they won the game in the shootout, they left the 6th, 7th, and 8th seeds still up in the air.
I'll get to that situation after the jump, but I also need to mention Edmonton opened the door for Vancouver to march in and win the Northwest Division title by beating the Flames, 5-1, last night. That result also clinched the 4th seed for the Blackhawks, who could still tie the Canucks in points, wins, and season series points, but would probably win a tiebreak by virtue of having a +43 Goal Differential to Vancouver's +25. They could make all that a moot point by getting at least one point against the Detroit Red Wings, who are probably a little more concerned with rest anyway since they're locked into the West's second seed.
See, I told you this situation would get a little clearer.
Now about that season series tiebreaker, it won't come into play in a potential tiebreak between Anaheim-St. Louis and Vancouver-Calgary. The Ducks have two more wins than St. Louis with one game to play. So for the Blues to leapfrog the Ducks in the standings, they'll either need to beat Colorado and hope the Ducks lose to Phoenix, or pick up a point with an OT or SO loss and couple that with an Anaheim regulation loss.
It also can't come into play between Anaheim and Columbus because the Ducks have one more win than the Blue Jackets but are also two points behind them. Obviously, the Ducks would have to beat Phoenix and hope Columbus loses to Minnesota in order to tie them with 92 points. Anaheim would then win the tiebreak on wins.
Where it could come into play is if there's a tie between Columbus and St. Louis after Sunday as St. Louis trails the Blue Jackets by two points in the standings and by one win. If they beat Colorado and Columbus loses to Minnesota on Sunday, the Blues would win by virtue of winning the season series against the Blue Jackets, 5-1.
If there's a three way tie, Anaheim would finish 6th, St. Louis would finish 7th, and Columbus would finish 8th.
Now onto the Northwest Division title race where Calgary failed to pull even with the 'Nucks last night. Both the Flames and Canucks have one game left to play. Vancouver holds a two point lead over Calgary, but Calgary still has one more win than Vancouver. Therefore, they would win any potential tiebreak should they return the favor and beat Edmonton at home tonight and should Vancouver lose tonight regulation at Colorado. Any other outcome gives the Canucks the Northwest Division Title and the 3rd seed.