NHL Playoffs: Is Columbus, Detroit, Dallas Or Phoenix Getting The Eighth Seed?

 

250px-NHL_Western_Conference.svg

There is an enthralling logjam that has developed in the Western Conference for the last playoff spot in Lord Stanley’s annual gala.  With the sun-setting on this abbreviated season, only a handful of games remain yet the competition for the eighth seed is fierce.  The Columbus Blue Jackets temporarily sit atop a pile of four teams in eighth place in the Western Conference standings with 49 points followed by the Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars each with 47 points and Phoenix Coyotes bringing up the rear at 44 points.

If the season ended now then it would be simple as to who was going to the prestigious Stanley Cup playoffs.  Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets!  Not so fast, Charlie!  There is some hockey still left to be played and this is where the fun begins in trying to prognosticate how the drama will unfold for the Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Stars and Coyotes.

Currently Columbus Is On Top But…

(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

This is a snapshot of how many points each team has and the number of games remaining as I wake up to a cup of java on April 20th.

Columbus Blue Jackets                  49 points              3 games remaining

Detroit Red Wings                           47 points              5 games remaining

Dallas Stars                                      47 points              4 games remaining          

Phoenix Coyotes                             44 points              5 games remaining

Columbus may be on top currently but it has the fewest games remaining and thereby has the least amount of room for error.  In fact, they no longer control their own destiny.  A loss in any of their remaining games would certainly send the Jackets packing.  More importantly, Columbus needs the Red Wings and Stars to collapse on their way to the finish line, if there is any hope for a post-season.  Similarly, Detroit needs the same from the Jackets and Stars if they want to have a 22nd consecutive appearance in the playoffs.

By the way, Minnesota is just barely over the bubble but has a favorable schedule down the stretch.  Accordingly, the Wild are projected to qualify for the playoffs and are not included in this analysis focused on the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Projected Outcome for Remaining Games – Columbus, Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix

It is anyone’s guess as to how the remaining games will unfold for each of these four teams.  This is an attempt to assess the probability of the outcome of each game based mostly on the record each team has against its respective opponent this season.  Added factors taken into consideration include whether it is a home game or away game and the possibility of some upper=tier teams resting their players thus potentially reducing the level of competition.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS – 3 GAMES REMAINING

Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

 

Columbus vs San Jose (Away)

Record: 2-0-0

Probability: 60% chance of winning

Projection: Win

Columbus vs Dallas (Away)

Record: 1-0-1

Probability: 40% chance of winning

Projection: Loss

Columbus vs Nashville (Home)

Record: 3-1-0

Probability: 90% chance of winning

Projected: Win

 

DETROIT RED WINGS – 5 GAMES REMAINING

(Icon SMI)

(Icon SMI)

Detroit vs Vancouver (Away)

Record: 2-0-0

Probability: 60% chance of winning

Projection: Win

Detroit vs Phoenix (Home)

Record: 1-1-0

Probability: 60% chance of winning

Projection: Win

Detroit vs Los Angeles (Home)

Record: 1-1-0

Probability: 40% chance of winning

Projection: Loss

Detroit vs Nashville (Home)

Record: 2-0-1

Probability: 80% chance of winning

Projection: Win

Detroit vs Dallas (Away)

Record: 1-1-0

Probability: 30% chance of winning

Projection: Loss

 

DALLAS STARS – 4 GAMES REMAINING

 

(Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE)

(Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE)

Dallas vs Los Angeles (Away)

Record: 3-1-0

Probability: 40% chance of winning

Projection: Loss

Dallas vs San Jose (Away)

Record: 3-0-0

Probability: 70% chance of winning

Projection: Win

Dallas vs Columbus (Home)

Record: 1-1-0

Probability: 60% chance of winning

Projection: Win

Dallas vs Detroit (Home)

Record: 1-1-0

Probability: 70% chance of winning

Projection: Win

 

PHOENIX COYOTES – 5 REMAINING GAMES

Keith Yandle (Photoree/Creative Commons)

Keith Yandle (Photoree/Creative Commons)

Phoenix vs Chicago (Away)

Record: 0-2-0

Probability: 20% chance of winning

Projection: Loss

Phoenix vs Detroit (Away)

Record: 1-1-0

Probability: 40% chance of winning

Projection: Loss

Phoenix vs San Jose (Home)

Record: 1-2-1

Probability: 60% chance of winning

Projection: Win

Phoenix vs Colorado (Home)

Record: 2-0-0

Probability: 80% chance of winning

Projection: Win

Phoenix vs Anaheim (Away)

Record: 2-1-0

Probability: 60% chance of winning

Projection: Win

 

Drumroll, Please!  And, The Result Is……

If the aforementioned projections come to fruition then there will be a three-way tie at the top.  Here is a snapshot of the projected total points each team will have at the end of the season.

Dallas Stars                                       53 points                            

Detroit Red Wings                           53 points             

Columbus Blue Jackets                 53 points             

Phoenix Coyotes                            50 points             

So, who goes to the Stanley Cup playoffs?  Now, this is where it gets downright bizarre in terms of settling tie-breakers and the applicable rule.

The “Scott Howson Rule” Could Come Back To Haunt The Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson/THW

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson/THW

As a twist of fate would have it for the often luckless Columbus Blue Jackets, former GM Scott Howson led a charge a couple of years ago to have a new tiebreaker rule implemented for exactly this type of a situation.  The “Scott Howson Rule” revolves around settling a tiebreaker based on which team has the most number of “regulation and overtime wins” (ROW).  Little would Howson have imagined that it would potentially work against the Blue Jackets but could this turn into sweet revenge for the ousted Columbus GM?  Not likely, as Howson has too much class to engage in such backyard foolery.

So, what does this all mean?  According to NHL.com, here is a tally of regulation and overtime wins for the three teams projected to be in a three-way tie for eighth place in the Western Conference as of the morning of April 20, 2013.

Dallas                   20 ROW

Detroit                 18 ROW

Columbus            16 ROW

Dallas Stars would be projected to elbow their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs if the ROW statistics hold up.  The Blue Jackets improbable run in the second half of the season will come up just a wee bit short of making the playoffs.  And, the Red Wings admirable 21-season streak of making the playoffs will come to an unfortunate end.  Of course, this is all speculation and conjecture at this point and anything is possible, right?  At the end of the season, there will be many jumping up and down in excitement that their team snuck into the playoffs.  Others will have their hearts broken with their team’s season coming to an abrupt end with no post-season bonanza.  It will be time to head to the golf course.

Jackets Are Winners Even If They Miss The Playoffs

The Blue Jackets will come out winners either way.  No one expected them to be in the hunt for the playoffs and were actually picked to finish at the bottom of the league again.  And, with three first round draft picks and a burgeoning group of high-performing prospects, the future is has never looked brighter in Columbus.

Follow me on Twitter @HarryKamdarNHL

Harry Kamdar
Harry is a business professional by day and a hockey writer by night. He covers the NHL and the Columbus Blue Jackets on the fastest growing hockey website, THE HOCKEY WRITERS. You can follow him on Twitter @HarryNHL, email at harry.kamdar@yahoo.com and access his articles at http://thehockeywriters.com/author/hkamdar
Harry Kamdar

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